C/O McMaster's Sports

A promising start to a season of uncertainty for a young team as they earn their first win, tie and loss this season

The McMaster University women’s field hockey team played their first home game on Sep. 17, marking the start of their second season in the Ontario University Association league.   

The team played both their home opener and first away game on Sep. 18 against the Waterloo Warriors. McMaster wrapped up the double-header with a one-to-nothing victory at home and one-one tie on the road.  

“As a first weekend, having a win and a tie is something as a team — we’re pretty proud of. Especially considering we’re only going to get better as the season goes on. I think [for] half of our team that was their first ever university field hockey game,” explained Jessica Lim, one of the team’s three captains.   

“As a first weekend, having a win and a tie is something — as a team — we’re pretty proud of. Especially considering we’re only going to get better as the season goes on."

Jessica Lim, McMaster Women's Field Hockey team Co-Captain

Along with her other teammates, Lim commended the impressive performance by goalkeeper Olivia Renaud. Renaud made a total of 11 saves in the first two games and was later named U Sports Field Hockey Player of the Week.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by McMaster Marauders (@mcmastersports)

The following week the Marauders unfortunately fell short in a road game against the Queens Gaels. The McMaster team played a strong first three quarters, but the Gaels were able to score two quick goals in the closing minutes, making the final score one to two.  

“I feel confident that as we gain more experience, as we spend more time playing together as a team and [learning] to read each other better, we’ll be able to play more complete games,” said Lim.  

The regular outdoor season consists of 10 games and lasts around a month. The league is divided into an east and west division but unlike last year McMaster will face all seven other teams at least once before the playoffs begin. As a result as the Marauders learn to play together, they also have the chance to feel out the other teams.  

“We’re definitely one of the underdogs this season and I think we’re coming out and surprising teams. They don’t really know what to expect but we’re putting it all out on the field and we make sure we give it our all every game,” said Serena Uppal, another of the team captains.

“We’re definitely one of the underdogs this season and I think we’re coming out and surprising teams. They don’t really know what to expect but we’re putting it all out on the field and we make sure we give it our all every game,”

Serena Uppal, McMaster Women's Field Hockey Team Co-Captain

Uppal and Lim also acknowledged their head coach, Jonathan Roberts, and assistant coach, Kathryn Williams, as two key factors in their success so far. Both coaches have represented Canada in international indoor field hockey competitions and have been critical in growing the field hockey program at McMaster. 

The winners of the OUA Championships at the end of October will clinch a spot in the U Sports women’s field hockey championship. They will face-off with one of three teams from the Canada West Division.   

“We are happy with how we started the season off, but we’re not content. We don’t want our season to be over after ten games . . . We want to make playoffs and have the opportunity and the chance to compete for a championship,” explained Uppal.  

The Marauders have plenty of time to demonstrate their grit and compatibility as a team, though the coming games will determine whether the relatively young team is championship material.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by McMaster Field Hockey🏑 (@mcmasterfh)

Students can catch the team in action at Alumni Field on Oct. 8, Oct. 12 and Oct. 14. More information can also be found online or on the team Instagram.

C/O Rob Martin

Haven’t heard of the McMaster women’s football team? Let’s change that.

Many McMaster students may be familiar with our incredible men’s football team. They can often be seen practicing outside in the Ron Joyce Stadium, geared up head-to-toe on a bright sunny afternoon. What students may not know is that three times a week, in a field tucked behind the stadium, practices McMaster’s women’s football team in the thick of winter. At first glance, it may not appear so, as one would be mistaken to find any protective equipment other than the thickest hoodies players can find.  

For those unaware of the structure of varsity sports at McMaster and across other Ontario universities, here’s the breakdown: the McMaster Marauders are registered for 16 sports in the OUA that compete at provincial levels. Of those, there are 11 sports from McMaster represented at U Sports — the national governing body of university sports in Canada. For reference, McMaster’s men’s football team is represented at the U Sports level.  

Unfortunately, although MWF athletes have the same training intensity and time commitment as varsity teams, the team is not recognized under the OUA. This means they are obligated to acquire their own funding and take on the title of a “club team,” grossly underrating the magnitude of effort invested by both players and coaches. Each year, the team is organized by a team of executive members, including the president Sophie Nezan and coach representative Justice Allin.  

“We don’t have the opportunities that the men’s football teams do. [Since] we are not recognized by varsity organizations, we are in charge of finding athletes and coaches, ensuring fields are booked for us, the finances, social media promotion and organizing tournaments,” said Nezan.  

“We don’t have the opportunities that the men’s football teams do. [Since] we are not recognized by varsity organizations, we are in charge of finding athletes and coaches, ensuring fields are booked for us, the finances, social media promotion and organizing tournaments,”

Sophie Nezan, McMaster Women's Football President

The team is under umbrella of the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Organization, consisting of 10 universities across Ontario, including McMaster. Each season normally begins in February, when the contact flag football tournaments kick off. There are usually two qualifier tournaments and a championship tournament, which was hosted at the Ron Joyce Stadium this past Saturday.  

“Thankfully, OWIFA exists, so we have a lot more opportunities because of them. They cover a huge portion in terms of organizing tournaments, but OWIFA is also an organization made up of athletes from the flag football teams. It’s definitely a lot of pressure,” explained Nezan.  

Though the teams are fortunate to be governed by OWIFA, limited budgets still play a significant role in the experience for athletes. For example, players and coaches are forced to hold nighttime practices due to limited field availabilities and often play tournaments in snowy and icy conditions.  

For good measure, the players are provided with no protective equipment (other than a limited number of generously donated soft-shell helmets) to play in the otherwise contact-heavy sport. All these factors combined make the players incredibly prone to serious injuries, knocking out several over the course of this season alone.  

Despite these difficulties, the MWF team is not a team to be overlooked. Due to a large amount of student interest, McMaster was able to register two teams in this year’s season: Team Marauders and Team McMaster.  

Team Marauders finished with an impressive five and one record on March 12 at the qualifying tournament located at Wilfred Laurier, finishing second place overall. Team McMaster earned itself the title of provincial finalists by also finishing second in the March 19 championship tournament at McMaster.  

“We would love to eventually be under the OUA and for women’s flag football to be at every university across the province and country. Not only is MWF a sport, but the engagement with other women across Ontario is also one of the best things about it,” explained Nezan.  

“We would love to eventually be under the OUA and for women’s flag football to be at every university across the province and country. Not only is MWF a sport, but the engagement with other women across Ontario is also one of the best things about it,”

Sophie Nezan, McMaster Women's Football President

Next steps for MWF include competing in the provincial intercollegiate women’s flag football championships hosted by Team Ontario on April 3, in hopes of progressing to the national championships in Ottawa in May.  

With the sport becoming more and more popular, both OWIFA and MWF continue to advocate and fight for equal opportunities for women’s football. The championship tournament was broadcasted live by junior Mustangs TV to promote fan interest and encourage folks to appreciate the overlooked sport.  

“These aren’t just women playing football; these are football players. Let’s get that out of the way right now,” stated London Junior Mustangs TV on OWIFA athletes.

“These aren’t just women playing football; these are football players. Let’s get that out of the way right now,”

London Junior Mustangs TV

It’s become quite evident that any room for growth in the world of football belongs to women’s football. With over 50 players playing competitively at McMaster alone, it’s hard to find a reason not to invest in the sport and create more opportunities for women across the country. It is unclear when the sport can gain varsity recognition, but, until then, it’s safe to say that the OUA is missing out.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenu