Lakehead has strong showing at championships
Submitted photo The Lakehead University women’s indoor soccer team earned a berth in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) championship at Redeemer University College in Ancaster that featured the province’s top 10 teams. In the front row, from left, are: Alana Rachner, Shai Kemp, Jess Langille, Brooke De Guilio, Kellie Parrott and Brianne Martin. In the back row: Chauntelle Palmer, Hayley Miskiw, Dusti Szabo, Alyssa Bernardi, Madison Leigh and Dustin Chung (coach).
After taking monumental strides this season, the Lakehead University Orillia women's indoor soccer team capped their history-making season by competing at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) championship at Redeemer University College in Ancaster.
While the Thunderwolves did not manage to write their name in the win column, the team was competitive at its first-ever provincial championship against the Ontario's top teams.
Lakehead opened the 10-team tourney with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to Mohawk College. In their second game, Fanshawe College took advantage of a brief Lakehead lapse to earn a 4-0 triumph. In game three, Centennial College broke a 2-2 second-half deadlock to earn a nail-biting 3-2 victory in what was a great effort by the Orillia squad. In their final contest, Lakehead fell 2-0 to Seneca College.
"They were a little unlucky in their first game, had a poor five-minute stretch in their second game... but, all in all, they played well at their first-ever provincial championship," said Neil Quinn, the athletics and recreation facilitator at Lakehead.
Lakehead kick-started its soccer program five years ago with a co-ed extramural team. Over time, thanks to hard work from dedicated coaches, the team improved and evolved. Last year marked the inaugural season for the varsity program and the team had a solid first season, earning a pair of regular-season wins. But Lakehead found itself overmatched at the OCAA Regional Tournament in which they lost every game and did not manage to score a single goal.
This year, however, under new coach Dustin Chung, the team was able to arrange more practice time and play more exhibition games farther afield. That translated into success on the field and the team's modest goal heading into the regional qualifier was to score a goal -- a goal that was more than surpassed.
Lakehead shone at the regional qualifier in Vaughan and surprised many by earning its first-ever win at that level - a hard-fought 4-3 triumph over Conestoga College. Thanks to the goal differential in their other two games, a pair of narrow defeats, Lakehead made history by punching its ticket to the provincial championships.
"To make it to provincials and to finish in the top 10 in the province is huge... it's a testament to how hard they've worked," said Quinn, who noted many students at the Orillia campus gave the team a warm send-off prior to heading to the OCAA championship.
The team will be recognized along with other athletic achievements by students from the Orillia campus at the local university's year-end awards banquet Saturday night.