Injuries end hope of upset for field hockey team
By Ian Ross
It took only 10 minutes on Friday for the wheels to fall off the Mustang field hockey wagon.
At Lamport field in Toronto for the Ontario University Athletic Championships, Western lost players to injury early in their quarter-final match-up against the Waterloo Athenas. Assistant captain Jenn Symmes partially tore her right medial collateral ligament, while Danielle Sebastien was victim to a suspected broken thumb, which turned out later to be severely sprained.
"Those injuries really changed the momentum of the game," said captain Karen Murtaugh. "It made a really big difference. We had to put on rookies and change the line-up. Early in the season we had problems scoring but have been recently clicking. The injuries caused us to change everything all over again."
Scrambling to adapt to a new system, Waterloo took advantage of the situation, scoring once to take the lead going into the first half. Down but not out, Western regrouped in the second half and attacked consistently for eight of the last 10 minutes of the game. Still, without success, according to Waterloo coach Sharon Creelman. Waterloo potted a second goal with seconds remaining in the game to defeat the 'Stangs 2-0.
Creelman agreed the injuries Western suffered, especially to Symmes, set the team back.
"When you have someone who played well all year for you, it hurts to lose them," she said.
Waterloo and Western had met twice in the regular season with both games ending in 0-0 draws. According to Creelman, the strategy of Waterloo was to beat Western's Denise Pelletier in net. In their previous meeting, Waterloo had out-shot the Mustangs 11-0 and 12-0 respectively, but could not get one past her.
"We knew we would have to score to win and we would have to do it early," Creelman said.
Waterloo would eventually fall to York in the semi-finals, while Toronto captured the provincial title.
With the loss, Western faced Queen's on Saturday for the consolation final for fifth place. Once again goaltending was key and Pelletier managed to fend off several Queen's attacks to hold the game at goose eggs after regulation time. The game then went to penalty strokes and finally to sudden death which Western lost.
"I view it as they didn't really lose it just came down to a shoot-out," said Western head coach Gavin Francis. "I firmly believe they have nothing to be ashamed of."
In a positive light, Pelletier, captain Karen Murtaugh and Maria Mascarenhan were named to the OUA second team all-star list.