By Steve Petrick
All odds are against Ryerson’s women’s basketball team as they head into the OUA East division semi-final game against the Laurentian Lady Vees this Thursday.
The Rams, who finished the regular season with an 8-12 record will play a team coming off a 19-1 season and will have to beat them in their own gym to move on to Friday’s final.
Laurentian, ranked fifth nationally, has a line-up that no team has been able to contain this year. After the first 17 games they had the league’s top scorer and field goal percentage shooter, Stephanie Harrison, and the top free-throw and three-point percentage hooter, Shauna Conway.
Complementing Laurentian’s offensive lineup is a tradition of winning. The lady Vees were division champions last year and in 1997 they won the Ontario championship, their sixth title that decade.
The Rams are entering the playoffs for the third straight year. The previous two years Ryerson entered as the fourth-seeded team and lost. In ‘97 they fell to the Western Mustangs. Last year they were slaughtered by Laurentian 82-61.
The biggest asset Ryerson carries into the game may be their confidence.
“Everyone’s counted us out, but I think we can do it as long as they believes in themselves,” head coach Sandra Pothier said.
Pothier, who is in her eight year as head coach, says her team has more talent and depth than the last two she took to the playoffs.
They are also more experienced. This will be the third play off game for three Rams starters and all three will be playing with some extra motivation.
For forwards Lisa Poulin and Becky Owen and guard Miruna Muller, a poor result could mean the end of their CIAU careers. Poulin and Owen are graduating in April and Muller, Ryeron’s top scorer, might leave school to play pro next year.
Muller will have to have a big game to keep Ryerson in it. She is the second leading scorer in the league, behind Harrison. She says this year’s team has a fighting attitude and is more capable of pulling off an upset than teams in the past.
“Last year [after losing in the playoffs] we said ‘Hey we made it,’” she said. “This year, our goal is nationals. We didn’t even think we weren’t going to make the playoffs.”