Hawks finish sixth

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With the post-season quickly approaching, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s soccer team had a rocky finish to their regular season, losing 2-0 to the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday and 2-0 to the York Lions Sunday in what were pivotal games to secure home field advantage for the playoffs.

Although the Hawks managed to hold their own in the first half against Guelph, they just couldn’t keep the Gryphon offence at bay, as they managed to pull ahead with a goal in the 52nd minute while Laurier struggled to find the net.

A penalty kick in the 90th minute off a handball would seal the game on a bitter note.

Coach Mario Halapir knew exactly what his intentions were going into the game.

“To get three points,” he said bluntly. “This game was a pivotal point for the playoff situation and we had an opportunity this weekend to get home field advantage.

“Today we needed three points and that’s the only thing we could ask the players to get.”

Despite solidifying a position in the playoffs, injuries have plagued the team this season.

“Injuries are for every team in the league, we can’t use that as an excuse,” said Halapir. “We were obviously hampered today missing our key ingredients in the midfield with two central players and it was awfully missed today.”

To add insult to the Hawks’ already plentiful injuries, starting goalkeeper Brett Harrington left the game following the first goal but Halapir is confident this will not be a major problem.

“Evan [Phillips] has done a tremendous job” he said of the backup ’keeper. “He’s got courage, a great attitude and you just hope he can improve on these as the years go on and that’s our main aim with him.”

Halapir knows there are some definite improvements that need to be made if they hope to go far in the post-season.

“The thing this team lacks is character,” he said. “Unfortunately we’ve been lacking for the last couple of years and I shouldn’t say that about everybody because there’s a few but there’s just not enough and those players that have it need to develop leadership qualities.”

Character isn’t the only thing they need.

“On field leadership is something we don’t have from any players and it’s difficult,” he said. “We have some senior players who aren’t capable of it and we have some first year players who don’t have the mental capacity for it.

“It’s very difficult when you put a team like that on the field… when a game is on the line. There just isn’t that will to win and without that you shouldn’t be competing.”

But one loss doesn’t mean the end.

“I personally never give up,” said Halapir. “We’re going to come back to try and coach to win again.”

The Hawks finished their season with a 5-6-5 record and sit sixth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division. The Lions and McMaster Marauders finished first and second respectively.

Laurier will face the third-seeded Western Mustangs in London at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in the first round of the OUA playoffs. Laurier tied and lost to Western during the regular season.

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