An unfortunate end to an exciting season

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Photo by Dotun Jide

 

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s varsity soccer season came to an unfortunate conclusion this Sunday. 

In a match that determined whether or not they would continue into the postseason, the Hawks tied with Brock Badgers 0-0 despite creating scoring chances up until the final whistle. 

The audience at University Stadium could hardly go a few minutes without a cheer or exclamation – and rightfully so. The box score was littered with four yellow cards and one red from an aggressive slide tackle from Brock.   

There were nine corner kicks and 15 shots for Laurier, compared to one corner kick and nine shots for Brock – the days tie being a significant achievement for the goalkeepers. 

The pivotal moment of the game was a penalty kick for Laurier that was denied by the Badger in net.  

“We have to trust what we’ve setup as far as the game plan goes, and what we do as a team, because that’s the only way we will have success.”

Head coach, Mario Halapir, addressed this moment in particular, saying, “This year has been a tough year for sure, and I mean today exemplifies our year, missing a penalty shot and then we had chance after chance and – unfortunately – in soccer, you have to put them in the back of the net.” 

Although Laurier managed to push back against the losses that plagued them in the beginning of their season, the lack of goals became the new challenge that held them from pushing further to the postseason.  

The team’s statistics say it all: of the 16 game season, the first eight games held six losses, a tie and a win, whereas the later half held two wins, a loss and four ties. 

The four ties are the most difficult to negotiate; one goal away from victory but the game still ends in a draw.   

“0-0 score is when you need the win and it’s going to be tough to get the result that you want. And we still had it, it was in our control,” Halapir said. 

The end of the season feels untimely, the Hawks were just beginning to find the rhythm to their game.  

“We can try and break down all the different things [but] the real telling factor – something we’ve done better at the end – [is that] we’ve probably stuck to our gameplay a little bit better as the season progressed,” Halapir explained.  

In the later part of the season Laurier stayed competitive in matchups against opponents that they had soundly lost earlier in the season. One clear example of the Hawks improvement is how they responded to the defeats in the first eight games, taking a 3-0 loss to Western and later beating them 1-0 when they played in the following weeks. The same is true of a close game played with McMaster; they turned from a loss to a tie. 

The gradual improvement shows the effects of the coaching staff. This bodes well for the team – comprised mostly of senior students – making coaching crucial if Laurier is to be successful in the coming seasons.  

“We tried to do it individually and it doesn’t work,” Halapir said. “And today – after the penalty shot – it was back to individual and I think we got back to some semblance again in the second half, but when we try to do our own thing individually it doesn’t work.”  

“We have to trust what we’ve setup as far as the game plan goes, and what we do as a team, because that’s the only way we will have success.” 

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