Missing the party
An inauspicious start ended an inauspicious season for Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s soccer team on Sunday.
Needing a win against No. 7 McMaster (10-2-4) to make the post-season, the Hawks (4-8-4) conceded an opening-minute goal to Mark Reilly, who would go on to score a natural hat-trick in the first 20 minutes, and the Hawks ended their season with a 6-2 loss (with Donald Chmura and Chris Walker finding the net for the Hawks.) That followed a 2-0 loss to No. 1 York on Friday.
The death knell came far too early for head coach Mario Halapir. “It’s a déjà vu every game we play. We get in and get set, and the first goal kills us,” said the coach.
After Walker got his head on a deft Dani Patros corner and got Laurier within two, the game unravelled.
Graduating forward Spencer Cawker became the flash point for a fire storm of insult-laden tirades the McMaster coaches directed at the referee team and the Hawks bench.
Cawker was first yellow-carded after he and a defender chased down a ball in the 18-yard box. As the keeper came out and wrapped the ball up, McMaster’s own player collided with his keeper’s head. The referee carded Cawker for a push from behind on the defender.
Moments later, with Cawker trying to break through the McMaster back line while surrounded by three defenders hacking at his feet, Cawker went down hard, only to be red-carded for diving. He was sent off, visibly wrought with frustration in the final game of his career.
Hawks’ defender Stephen Reel was shouldered in the back and driven face-first into the cement by a Marauder defender. Reel would be forced to leave the game after lying motionless for moments as the McMaster coaching staff had the gall to chirp Laurier’s bench after the play.
Staying true to his previous week’s promise, Halapir favoured his rookies in the final weekend and, despite being outplayed heavily at times, does not regret the decision.
“We started eight first years and none of those first years were involved in those [mistake-ridden] goals. It wasn’t their fault,” said Halapir.
While optimistic about the future, Halapir notes there are key pieces missing before Laurier can reclaim its status as a nationally competitive program.
“I don’t think the group of young guys we have here are vocal leaders. Many will end up being very good players, we have a future that bodes well, but we need more mental toughness.”