Playoff dreams dwindle
Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s soccer team needed a win to secure their place in the playoffs on Sunday against Windsor.
But goalkeeper Martyn Hooker let the ball slip through his fingers and the team may have just simultaneously let their season slip away.
The Windsor Lancers exploited a listless Laurier backline and got two goals off of errors to put the Hawks’ season in serious jeopardy by virtue of a 2-0 loss to their visitors.
The Hawks tied Waterloo on the previous day, 0-0, to put their record at 4-6-4.
In the 56th minute, a seemingly harmless free kick from well outside the 18-yard box was caught, then dropped by Hooker and rolled onto the foot of Michael Pio who didn’t make a mistake and got the ball over the line to put Windsor up 1-0 in the biggest game of the year for Laurier.
The Hawks had difficulty all day long clearing the ball out of their box and even more difficulty getting quality chances when in their opponent’s box.
Shortly after the marker, an innocent and low, sharp-angled shot was put on net and as Hooker got a hand on it, he punched the ball right to an unmarked Lancer forward who lazily tucked it into the back of the net to secure the victory.
The Hawks failed to mount much of a counter despite numerous substitutions and positional changes.
The loss puts Laurier on the brink of falling out of contention for the final weekend of the season, travelling to York before ending the year at home against McMaster.
The Hawks need one win from the two games. However, they haven’t won at York in four seasons and McMaster is in top-form and chased Laurier off the field in a 4-0 drubbing earlier in the year.
After a game where motivation should have been easy to come by with so much on the line, head coach Mario Halapir assailed his team’s poor effort and their quality of play.
“We’re a pub team, that’s what we are; I have no problem saying that. We are missing leadership. There is no leadership on this team at all,” said the coach.
Citing the discrepancy between the expectations put on his senior players and the disappointing results, Halapir will be heading into the final weekend of the regular season with the playoffs on the line, with a bench of only rookies, “We’re just going to play with as many first-year guys on the field as we can.
“The strategy is to have players that want to play, that have desire and willingness to compete,” Halapir noted. “Our returning players have been a complete disappointment, we have OUA (Ontario University Athletics) champions on this team but they are not strong leaders…it hasn’t worked.”
The lack of leadership, intensity and heart shown by his team infuriated Halapir, going so far as to claim they “play with fear.”
“I can’t stand to watch this, this is very hard to watch. I have no problem losing in the right way, when you’ve competed and left it all out there. The way we are losing though is a completely different story,” waned Halapir.
When asked about similarities between this team and the one that overcame inabilities and won the OUA championship in 2008, Halapir yearns for the players of the past.
“We were in that position where we had no ability but the mentality was good, we had good character guys…but we miss them now that’s the difference. Alex [Doma], Matt [Smith], and Zach [Faubert] gave everything and left nothing on the field. Zach had a fuckin’ heart of a lion, these guys are fuckin’ sheep.”
“I’d hate to be in a dark alley with these guys, I’d rather take a guy from the past than 20 of these guys, maybe we just attract soft kids, I don’t know, but it’s disappointing,” concluded Halapir.
The Hawks play Friday at York University at 3:15 p.m.