A roller-coaster weekend
Although playing without their head coach, starting keeper and star midfielder, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s soccer team (2-2-2) played without remorse in a resounding 3-0 victory over the lowly Brock Badgers at Alumni Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Hawks were playing short-handed on the field and short-staffed off of it by virtue of an eviscerating 4-0 loss to the McMaster Marauders on Saturday.
Keeper Brett Harrington and head coach Mario Halapir were ejected in the 2nd and 22nd minute respectively after tempers got heated. Midfielder Hugo Hernandez was on crutches Sunday after injuring his knee on the turf of Ron Joyce Stadium.
The turf at home however is far more forgiving and Brock had visible trouble with Laurier’s speed.
This became evident in the 35th minute as rookie midfielder Dani Patros cut into the box with a burst but was pulled down by a Brock defender garnering a penalty-kick. Donald Chmura stepped in to take the shot and buried it low and into the left corner to give the Hawks a well-deserved advantage and Chmura a team-leading three markers on the year.
Laurier’s foot speed continued to keep the Badgers on their heels as veteran Spencer Cawker made a well-timed run into the box before slashing to the left side and striking the ball across his body, left footed, into the far side of the goal ticking off the post. The shot fell under the Brock keeper.
With a two goal advantage the Hawks opted to keep the pressure on for the second half and were rewarded when Chmura was taken down at the top of the 18-yard box with a heel clip in the 74th minute.
This time rookie midfielder Eddis Sokmez lined up the kick and unleashed a sublime strike that rose up and curved around the 5-man wall, tracking perfectly into the top corner of the net.
Sokmez’s strike evoked a frenzy on the Laurier bench, but not simply for the beauty of it.
“Well, he hit one right into the wall of guys in the first half, so we were joking around before he took the shot that he would be putting that one way into the parking lot,” laughed assistant-turned-head coach for the day Jarrett Humphreys.
Humphreys credits their success on the day to a simple tactical change. “Guys were closing down a lot quicker, they weren’t giving Brock time with the ball, we slowed it down and decided to keep possession…we took advantage of the opponent we had.”
Humphreys and assistant coach Ben Clifford were charged the day of the match with taking the reins of a team that was run off the field the previous day in Hamilton. “I was doing the laundry for the game this morning and Mario told me I’d be calling the game today,” recollected Humphreys.
“The guys responded really well [to the loss] and there was a lot of energy and hunger in the room. Before I got there, they actually had decided to hold a players-only meeting and it got them on the right track.”
Laurier is on the road Wednesday night against the University of Ontario Institute of Technology then return home for their game against Waterloo on Saturday at 3 p.m.