Hawks prepare for second half finale
Laurier clicking just in time for challenging end of season
According to head coach Mario Halapir of the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s soccer team, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
The Hawks saw their three game winning streak come to an end on Sunday afternoon after losing 2-0 to the No. 7 nationally-ranked McMaster Marauders.
Regardless of the outcome, the Hawks are heating up at the right time. Third-year midfielder Niklas Bauer reached top season form, scoring six goals in his last three games while second-year goalkeeper Stephan Brudiu provides stability between the goalposts. He posted a formidable .867 save percentage over seven games, five of which he has started.
Brudiu kept zeroes on the board for the Hawks in his last three starts before facing the Marauders. As much as the team has improved over the course of the season, Halapir still thinks the Hawks have to improve between the posts, especially with the second half of the season approaching quickly.
“As far as the goalkeeping goes — by record it’s been well. I think that is an area that we have to improve in for sure. The experience in this level for all of our goalkeepers is not there and I think in games like Mac games I think that’s where the telling sign will be for how well our goalkeepers are going to be,” he explained.
Coming midway into the season, the Hawks face a tall challenge in facing the York Lions twice, the Windsor Lancers and the McMaster Marauders. Both the Lions and Marauders are Canadian Interuniversity Sport national finalists, ranked No. 3 and No. 5 respectively, while the Windsor Lancers are having a stellar season of their own, competing directly with York. These three teams will play the Hawks over the next three weeks, as the season finale draws closer. That being said, Halapir realizes that the tough part of the schedule is upon the Hawks, and they will have to stick to their game if they are looking to overcome some of the top tier teams in the CIS.
“Any game in this league is a tough game — it doesn’t matter who we play,” Halapir said.
Statistically, the tough teams are over, but Halapir recognizes the inconsistency in playing all teams within the Ontario University Athletics conference — Laurier fell to Waterloo 4-0 before having a breakout game, defeating them 7-0.
“I think we take one game at a time, and I think we have to try our best to treat every game the same. It should be no different playing York than it is playing Algoma. I understand it’s easy to say but I think we have to have the approach that we should believe that we can beat any team and when we prepare we should prepare the same for everybody.”
Halapir contributes team chemistry as the main reason for the Hawks’ success; coming together as a team to play their game and maintaining that team spirit as the season wears on.
“That’s the reason I think we have done well. Maybe by points in the beginning of the season it didn’t show, but we made a great improvement overall in team play. But also the reason that we have been able to do that is the team chemistry on the field. The training around the locker room is very, very good and that has to stay and once that disappears then we are in trouble,” he said.
The Hawks will host off against the No. 3 nationally-ranked York Lions on Oct. 1 at University Stadium.