While the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks rested, the McMaster Marauders battled their way into the semifinal round of the Yates Cup playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
The No. 7 Marauders managed to hang on for a 12-9 win over the Queen’s Gaels, punching their ticket to the next round — their third consecutive playoff matchup against the Golden Hawks.
In 2015, Laurier defeated McMaster in the quarter finals. In 2016, it was the semifinals.
With a 40-15 win against McMaster just a week prior — a win that secured the Hawks a first-round bye in the playoffs — there’s no doubting confidence is on Laurier’s side. But there is some worry that confidence may be too high.
“The one worry for me as a coach is that we’re maybe a little too confident,” said Laurier head coach Michael Faulds. “Our job as coaches this week is to keep them grounded.”
Laurier will be opposed by a hungry Marauders team, which finished the season with a 6-2 record. The Marauders are led by head coach Greg Knox, a former Laurier defensive back, in his first official season as the head coach of the Marauders. He managed the team in 2016 as the interim head coach, but was promoted to permanent full-time coach after the 2016 season.
McMaster owns one of the best defences in the country, with only 13.8 points allowed per game. On the other side of the ball, with rookie quarterback Jackson White, a former Jacob Hespeler Secondary School Hawk, they are seventh in the Ontario University Athletics, scoring 24.6 points per game. By comparison, Laurier scored 38.5 points per game.
“It is truly a chess match,” said Faulds when asked about how Laurier will counter McMaster’s adjustments. “Both teams, offensively, will try different wrinkles. We just have to be prepared.”
According to Faulds, the bye week came at the exact right time. Most notably, quarterback Michael Knevel was forced to miss the last game of the regular season with an injury. But with the two consecutive weeks off, he should be good to start on Saturday.
In order to counter any complacency with the week off, Faulds said the team has been working through in-game situations during practice this week.
“We’re going through any situation that could come up in the game,” said Faulds.
And, of course, Faulds reminds them what’s on the other end of a win on Saturday.
“We just keep reminding them that they’re four quarters away from being in another Yates Cup game,” said Faulds.
The Golden Hawks will host the Marauders Saturday at 1 p.m. at University Stadium.