Volume 92, Issue 9

Thursday, September 17, 1998

service with a smile


Field hockey women aim to get respect

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

SHE SHOOTS, SHE..... Well we're not really quite sure what happens, but the women hope to score a bunch this weekend.

By John Dinner
Gazette Staff

Youth prevails. Or so hopes the women's field hockey team heading into this weekend's regular season opener. Fielding a team of ten rookies on a roster of 20, the women will rely on veteran leadership to be able to challenge the upper echelon of teams in Ontario University Athletics.

One of the Mustangs that first-year coach Gavin Francis will be relying on is the lone fifth-year player and captain of the team, Karen Murtaugh.

"We're not as young as we seem because the rookies on this team have a lot of experience and have been playing for years," Murtaugh said. "We're a young, aggressive team that fights for every ball and that will keep us in games."

This style seems to have been working for the team so far, as they surprised a lot of people at last weekend's exhibition tournament.

"We turned heads at last weekend's tournament," Francis said. "That's something we would like to continue throughout the year."

The surprise of the tourney was the draw the 'Stangs had with York, who made a trip to last year's Canadian Inter-university Athletics Union championships. The narrow loss to OUA favourites Toronto was also shocking.

"We gave Toronto a real good fight last weekend. I believe we were probably their toughest opponents in the tournament," Francis said. "If we think we can beat teams like [York and Toronto], then it gives us confidence in knowing we can beat anyone in the OUA."

The women want to continue to build on their experiences from last weekend and carry them throughout the season. "If we can continuously learn from each game and improve then we will be a contender at the end of the season," Murtaugh said.

With a rookie coach in Francis and half the team being first-year students, there are sure to be some growing pains but Murtaugh said he believes there won't be as many as people around the league think.

"The transition of Gavin coming in and coaching has been incredibly smooth. He has been working with the team for a number of years so the girls know him and he's not bringing in any concepts that are completely new," Murtaugh said. "We've got a good veteran core on defense with a lot of experience. We're really strong back there."

The women will take their first step towards respectability this weekend when they head to Kingston to take on Queen's, Trent and Toronto in their first regular season action.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998