It was an incredible weekend for McMaster’s women’s soccer team. The Thanksgiving weekend is always a difficult one, with personal distractions running rampant for sports teams as the campus empties while students travel home to see their families for the holiday weekend. But for the ladies soccer team, there was an even greater challenge: the Laurier Golden Hawks.

The Golden Hawks are the No.3 ranked team in the CIS and a perennial powerhouse in Canadian women’s soccer. They were undefeated in the 2012 season until their journey to Hamilton, Ont. where the McMaster Marauders would hand the Golden Hawks their first loss of the season.

The match was highly contested, with emotions running high on either side.

Throughout the first half, the game would stay incredibly close with teams matching each other’s attacks with strong defence. McMaster put together a great piece off of a corner kick, but the Marauders were unable to put a foot on the ball and the opportunity would be missed.

At the half, the score would remain 0-0 but it would not take long for that to change. In the 48th minute, McMaster’s leading scorer Tara Dawdy would break the tie with a beautiful strike from outside the 18-yard box. The ball would soar past the Laurier keeper, giving the Marauders the 1-0 edge, a lead they would maintain until the final whistle.

It would not be a perfect game for the Marauders, as shortly after the goal, Julia Maiolino received her second yellow card of the match and was sent off. With Mac a player down, and Laurier leading the OUA West in goal differential, the lead did not look like it would stand for very long.

But goalkeeper Brittany Duffey and her defensive unit would not waver and an outstanding collective effort would maintain the clean sheet for Duffey. The Laurier defeat is the Marauders most important win of the season, as the Marauders narrowed the gap between the Golden Hawks at the top of the OUA West standings.

On Sunday, the Marauders built off their momentum from the Laurier defeat and took the pitch against the Waterloo Warriors. The Warriors are a struggling squad, floundering in the bottom of the OUA West table.

Their struggles would continue against the Marauders, starting in the 19th minute with Maureen Mai beating the defender and placing a perfect shot to give Mac a 1-0 lead.

The lead would quickly double, with Cristina Leonardelli scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the 35th minute and McMaster would end the first half with a 2-0 lead.

The Warriors would attempt a comeback in the second half, after a counter-attack goal brought the score to 2-1 in favour of the Marauders. Waterloo would continue to apply pressure to the Mac defense but the ladies in the back would hold strong to maintain the lead.

The women’s squad heads to the University of Guelph on Saturday. The Guelph Gryphons held Mac to a scoreless draw in their last match. McMaster hosts UOIT on Sunday, a team looking to solidify its spot in the 2012 playoffs. The Marauders defeated the Ridgebacks in their previous match, dominating the game 3-0.

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