Hawks work on mentality
Head coach Mario Halapir and the Golden Hawks men’s soccer team will kick off their season opener against the McMaster Marauders on Aug. 28 at Ron Joyce Stadium in Hamilton, Ont.
Despite finishing sixth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division with a regular season record of 5-6-5, the team exceeded expectations by defeating the Western Mustangs 3-2 at London in late October in the first round. In the West quarterfinals, however, the eventual OUA bronze medalists, the York Lions, narrowly eliminated the Hawks 1-0.
The team is determined to carry the momentum of their post-season success into the upcoming campaign.
The future appears bright for a young team that gained valuable playoff experience against top competition and was one victory away from a berth in the OUA Final Four.
“Our goals [for 2013] aren’t metric based, as per standings, titles and the win and loss column,” said Halapir. “I believe it is important once again to establish a culture amongst all of our athletes that will include a great passion for playing, a non-wavering commitment at training and a never-die attitude in competition.”
“The mentality of the returning players at this point of the season in comparison to last is much better,” continued Halapir.
Third-year striker Robert Kardaras was the team’s leading scorer last year, with three goals through eleven games played. Most notably, Kardaras scored the game winner to defeat Western in the first round of the playoffs. Kardaras aims to improve an offence that scored only thirteen goals through sixteen games.
“With the rookies coming in, and the veterans coming back, it looks like we can make a playoff run,” said Kardaras. “Everyone has been pushing [at training camp] to the point of playing through bumps and bruises.”
Laurier will also depend on third-year OUA showcase selection Jordan Kotsopoulos to secure the midfield in the absence of Donald Chmura.
The fourth-year OUA West second team all-star will serve a six-game suspension to begin the season due to a red card in the playoffs against Western.
Fifth-year goaltender Brett Harrington will look to anchor the defence after recording six shutouts last season.
In terms of leadership, Halapir believes that there will be multiple standouts throughout the year.
“If the proper culture is built, leaders will emerge in different forms,” he said. “The last few years have been a bit difficult in this area but as I mentioned, the mentality, which includes maturity, is much better with the returning crew.
“Ideally a good start, strong season and great finish.”
The Hawks will face Waterloo at Warrior Field on Sept. 1 before coming to University Stadium for their home opener on Sept. 4 against the Brock Badgers.