Men’s soccer find the confidence to compete

Hawks find chemistry, communication an asset against Canada’s top teams

Photo by Bach Nguyen
Photo by Bach Nguyen

Communication. Chemistry. Confidence.

These three C’s are currently circulating the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s soccer team. After a shaky start to the 2015 campaign, the Hawks have found themselves with an impressive streak, winning or tying five of their last six games and now sit fifth in the Ontario University Athletics West division.

What’s more is that one of those ties came against the defending national champions, the York Lions.

“I think it’s about the communication [especially] for me and my defenders. We have great chemistry in the back,” said second-year goalkeeper Stephan Brudiu, who allowed a single goal in two games this weekend.

“The better chemistry, the better the performance. They’ll feel more confident in me and I’ll feel more confident in them.”

The confidence showed this when the Hawks allowed a single goal in a 1-1 draw against the Lions Thursday. A gritty affair, Laurier found their confidence and played with the Lions for a full 90 minutes, finding the back of the net courtesy of third-year Niklas Bauer.

Heading in unbeaten at home, Laurier hosted the Western Mustangs, currently four points behind them in the OUA West, Sunday afternoon. A back-and-forth contest showcased a formidable performance from Brudiu who stopped all six shots he faced, keeping the game scoreless.

Laurier mustered four shots, with Western keeper Ben Cowman making two saves.

However the inexperience of a team that has a lot of first-year and second-year players showed later in the contest when they began to break down their formation and let too many breaks down the wings — something that could hinder their upward progression in upcoming games against the third-place Lions, the second-place McMaster Marauders and the first-place Windsor Lancers.

“I may have put a little too much pressure by saying we haven’t been beaten at home,” said head coach Mario Halapir.

“There’s an expectation on themselves to perform. And sometimes that’s not great when you’re inexperienced. But you know what, they gotta learn it at some point in time.”

Halapir believes there certainly is an expectation of the Hawks to compete with the best in their division and in the province. With just five games left before the playoffs, the expectation will be to continue with the confidence, communication and chemistry that seems to be forming.

“We’re in unchartered territory right now,” Halapir said. “In the past couple of years, we wouldn’t have had the confidence or the ability to consistently maintain games like [against Western]. But this year we’re actually doing it now. And it comes with believing we can actually compete with everybody.”

After a short break, Laurier will continue their road to the playoffs on Thursday when they head to North York to take on the Lions. The Hawks will then have a three-game home stretch before finishing off in St. Catharines against the Brock Badgers.

“We have to stay strong and focused, stay mentally focused and communicate with each other,” Brudiu said.

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