Men’s soccer team ranked No.7

Men's soccer came back to tie against the Brock Badgers on Wednesday; host Guelph and Western this weekend. (Photo by Kha Vo)
Men’s soccer came back to tie against the Brock Badgers on Wednesday; host Guelph and Western this weekend. (Photo by Kha Vo)

For Mario Halapir, the Wilfrid Laurier men’s soccer team being nationally ranked isn’t going to change the way he focuses on the rest of the season.

In fact, Halapir doesn’t even look at the standings.

“I’m the wrong guy to ask about standings,” the men’s soccer head coach said. “They mean nothing to me. What your ranking is at this point in the season is [based] on four games. It’s not an indication of anything, it’s how you finish.”

On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the Hawks were ranked No.7 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) top ten rankings. This is the first time that men’s soccer has been nationally ranked since September 14, 2010, when they were No.10 in Canada.

Last week, Laurier was not ranked in the CIS.

The news comes after WLU finished the week with two ties to the Brock Badgers and the Windsor Lancers to improve their record to 2-0-2 for the season.

Laurier currently sits second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division and third in the entire OUA conference, behind the York Lions and the Carleton Ravens.

“It’s a tough one,” Halapir said. “I’m very candid about my feelings about this and I don’t want to jinx anything. But the league is a very competitive league. I think every game we play is going to be a great game. There’s no two ways about it, we’re off to a great start, but those games are in the past. Looking forward, we’ve got two tough games ahead of us, and our standing could change. We could go down four, five spots in the standings just after the weekend.

“I’m not saying that’s what we’re trying to do, [but] we have to perform.”

Laurier’s performance this season comes after an impressive finish to the 2012 year. After finishing sixth in the OUA West, Laurier met up with the Western Mustangs in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks stunned the third-place Mustangs, coming away with a 3-2 win and advancing to the quarterfinal, losing 1-0 to the No.1 Lions.

“The one thing for sure is that the atmosphere this year has been a lot better,” Halapir said. “Their approach to training has been a lot better. We’ve said that from the beginning.”

While the Hawks have gained national attention with their always-improving performance, Halapir continues to stress that his players must not get caught up in the external factors.

“It is a great achievement, I mean, but according to who? I mean, it’s only based on the initial standings and that’s all that it’s based on. It’s not based on anything else,” he said.

“I’m not taking anything away from the performance, but the actual rankings could have a detrimental effect,” Halapir continued. “I think the harder work starts now and it’s going to be even harder now.”

The Hawks will entertain the Guelph Gryphons Friday evening before hosting the Western Mustangs Sunday afternoon. Both the Gryphons and the Mustangs sit a point behind Laurier in the standings, tied for third with the McMaster Marauders.

“I hope the players see this more as a compliment and keep working harder and harder because the rankings mean nothing,” Halapir said.

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