Competitive OUA factor for talented Hawks

The Hawks defeated the Brock Badgers on Wednesday 3-1; Laurier currently has a record of 2-1-1. (Photo by Kha Vo)

The Hawks defeated the Brock Badgers on Wednesday 3-1; Laurier currently has a record of 2-1-1. (Photo by Kha Vo)

On paper, the Wilfrid Laurier women’s soccer team is a truly competitive team.

The team lost merely three starting players coming into the 2013 campaign, had a flawless recruiting class filling all the gaps, and as proved in their home opener against the Brock Badgers, they can also produce on the field.

However, a 1-0 loss to the Windsor Lancers on Saturday showed that the raw-talented Golden Hawks know they still have a few steps left to go.

“It was a disappointing result in Windsor,” said assistant coach Niki Budalic. “The team came out flat, a little bit unprepared and [we] didn’t show the fight or the grit we needed to get through a match like that.”

The loss Saturday is women’s soccer’s earliest loss in the regular season since 2010, when Laurier dropped a 1-0 decision on Oct. 3, also to the Lancers.

However, later that year Laurier went on to win the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) gold medal and earn a silver medal in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship.

“The OUA, like every year, it’s a league that you can win or lose in any match if you’re not focused,” Budalic said. “So it’s a matter of making sure we’re always on the same page, we’re prepared tactically and physically for each match and hopefully we’ll be better after that.”

As a consistent contender in the OUA and last year’s silver medalists, Laurier will have to focus on their foundation in order to contend against the tougher contests in the rest of the regular season.

“I think we’re just going to need to regroup and go through a few things at training, and hopefully have a positive reaction to it,” Budalic said.

The Hawks proved their ability Wednesday evening in their home opener against Brock, when third-year striker Emily Brown led the way with two goals in a 3-1 victory.

Head coach Barry MacLean said that it was their best performance thus far in the season.

The Hawks currently sit at 2-1-1 for this season, and are ranked No.9 in the country. Laurier is joined on the top ten rankings this week by the Queen’s Gaels and Ottawa Gee-Gees of the OUA East, and this week’s matchup, the Guelph Gryphons. Laurier also entertains the Western Mustangs in their weekend action.

Budalic believes that the Hawks will have to prepare for their weekend matchups in very different ways, however both games are crucial, as Guelph and Western sit ahead of WLU in the standings.

“Guelph and Western will likely be two different types of games,” he said. “So it’s just being able to prepare for the different types of games that we expect. We expect Western to be a very up-tempo game and competitive. They’re undefeated this year and they played us very, very tough last year so we expect our hands to be full.

“And then Guelph will be difficult in a different way. It’ll be a little bit more thinking, and they’re dangerous on the counter, and the different approaches.”

Laurier will play Guelph on Friday at 6 p.m., and will host Western on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be played at University Stadium.

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