Golden Hawks prepare for Gryphons
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s soccer team needed a win against the No. 5 nationally ranked McMaster Marauders on Sunday afternoon to secure home-field advantage in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs.
Despite the Marauders benching a handful of their starters in preparation for the playoffs, the Hawks struggled to capitalize on point-blank opportunities and the match finished as a scoreless draw at University Stadium.
“[McMaster] was a far cry from their top-calibre lineup,” said head coach Mario Halapir. “We should have taken three points.”
As a result, Laurier lost home-field advantage with the draw and will travel to Guelph to play the No. 6 Gryphons on Oct. 23rd.
The Hawks finish sixth in the OUA West division with a 6-4-6 record heading into the post-season.
McMaster goalkeeper Kieran Doyle-Davis parried seven shots on goal and rescued the Marauders from several defensive collapses as the Hawks’ offense proved tenacious throughout the second half.
The shutout was the Marauder’s sixth consecutive and ninth of the 2013 campaign.
McMaster finishes the season second in the OUA West division with an 11-2-3 record and will automatically advance to the semifinals against the highest remaining seed in the West.
The semifinal is scheduled for Oct. 26th at Ron Joyce Stadium in Hamilton, Ont.
Adrian Bucksam — the Hawks’ powerful striker — missed the first third of the match due to a family engagement and struck several point-blank shots directly into the chest of Doyle-Davis. Bucksam, midfielder Donald Chmura and striker Sandro Stojakovic collectively dominated possession and set piece opportunities in the attacking third of the pitch.
“[Bucksam] positioned himself effectively but lacked the composure and finish,” said Halapir. “He could have netted two goals.”
“Chmura battled throughout the game and had a strong performance.”
Chmura, the fourth-year midfielder, seemingly roamed the entire pitch battling for possession and distributing the ball amongst his teammates.
Midfielder Jordan Kotsopoulos received a yellow card in the thirty-third minute and was immediately substituted. The substitution was presumably to avoid further booking and impact his post-season availability against Guelph.
Goalkeeper Brett Harrington made his 12th start of the season and preserved Laurier’s seventh shutout of the season.
Harrington made crucial saves on McMaster’s counterattacks and he provided ‘in game’ leadership for the Hawks.
The Hawks competed against the Gryphons twice throughout the regular season and hope to improve on their 0-1-1 record.
Kick off is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Guelph Gryphon Soccer Complex in Guelph, Ont.