Laurier men’s soccer unbeaten in three

Hugo Hernandez’s name didn’t show up on the score-sheet in Saturday’s 3-0 Golden Hawk victory versus the Brock Badgers, but without him, the men’s soccer team’s offence would have never been resuscitated after going three games without a goal.

On a routine play, with the ball almost leaving the zone in midfield, heading towards the rain-soaked spectators, the third-year pulled off a gem of a sliding kick to keep the play alive.

The ball sailed to midfield and found a wide open Spencer Cawker who buried a lethal strike past a diving Badgers keeper Jake Sweetzer to give the Hawks the early lead which would never be relinquished.

And just like that, the nondescript potential ball-out had evolved into the decisive tipping point that an offensively-talented but goal-starved Hawks squad had so justly deserved.

“I don’t know,” the Markham native responded when asked what prompted the herculean effort on the seemingly insignificant play.“We usually try to go all out for every ball and try not to give up and get things happening.”

If that’s the mindset on the team, head coach Mario Halapir should be extremely proud of the work ethic he’s instilled in the team.

A veteran on a young squad, Hernandez has exemplified the type of season the team has had on the pitch so far.

“I haven’t had any issues with [a lack of hustle] this year,” Halapir noted. “The last few years we’ve depended on being organized defensively and working really hard but controlling the game has been hard to come by. This year, we have a lot more of an ability to control the ball.”

One area of the Hawks’ game where Halapir has noticed improvment is in time of possession.

“Every [previous] game this year, I would say there wasn’t one time where we haven’t had the ball more than the other team,” he explained.

“Even including York and Western [who employ] a different type of soccer, they’re the more physical, run and gun, hard-nosed teams, but we’re able to play with them.”

Laurier knotted the premier teams in the province, Western and York at 0-0 in both games last week.

Hernandez found himself flat on the pitch once again later in the second frame on a more sinister note.

“Well I got punched in the stomach, so I was really angry… I came off at the end, I didn’t want to do something stupid,” a smiling Hernandez said. “It’s good to keep Brock behind us.”

Opponents failed to put one past Laurier goalkeeper Jarrett Humphreys in all three matches.

“He wasn’t tested a lot but this was by far Jarrett’s best game (Saturday). He took control of the penalty area and he led today from the back,” said Halapir.

Ben Clifford and Sandro Stojakovic added goals for the Hawks against the Badgers, as they now sit fourth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) west division with a record of 4-2-2.

“They’re ranked third in Canada,” said Hernandez of Western, who the Hawks tied 0-0 last Wednesday. “But it really means nothing. At the end of the season, that’s where it all counts.”