Volume 92, Issue 28
Friday, October 23, 1998
Underdogs prepared to take bite out of playoffs
BY DAVE ELIA
Playing the role of the underdog can sometimes become a team's advantage.
This weekend the Western women's field hockey team is hoping just that. Entering the Ontario University Athletic Championships as the sixth and last seed, the team is confident it can get good results in its first match against longtime rival Waterloo, whom they have tied twice this season.
"The girls seem to get up for Waterloo," explained head coach Gavin Francis. "They play even harder."
This season has been an offensive struggle for the squad, but a defensive triumph. Most games have seen the team score few goals, yet allow fewer in. Much of this has been credited to goaltender Denise Peletier.
"She's very strong, very consistent," said assistant captain Jenn Symmes. "She's made some spectacular saves."
Francis not only credits her with keeping the team in the game, but as the reason the squad has seven ties this season, along with three wins and six losses.
The team is still confident it is improving. "This year was technically supposed to be a rebuilding year, but we're really stepping it up, especially in the last three games," Symmes said. "The team is very young, with 10 rookies on its side."
Captain Karen Murtaugh realizes the growing pains of such a young team. "We're trying a few different things but we just haven't clicked yet."
Francis said he feels the team is peaking at just the right moment.
"Last year the team had a very good regular season, but lost its momentum going into the OUA championship," Francis said. "I think with this team we're seeing the reverse."
He is also confident that the team has improved since its last tie against Waterloo.
"We sat down and talked about the season and I know we have a lot of confidence."
While entering the provincial championship is a fresh start for the team, it can forget about the frustration of the regular season.
"It's a whole new ball game and we're in a good situation playing Waterloo," Francis said. "We have a good chance."
Playing Waterloo this Friday, the team holds its own fate. But with this kind of genuine confidence, the team is shaping out to be a dangerous underdog.
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