Soccer Hawks head for playoffs

You couldn’t script a more fitting conclusion to a regular season than what the Golden Hawks men’s soccer team conjured up in Sunday’s 2-2 tie with the Waterloo Warriors.

Down 2-1 to a Warriors squad scratching and clawing for any glimpse of a playoff berth on the last day of the season, and with just one minute left on the clock, first year Donald Chmura tumbled in a heap to the unforgiving Alumni Field turf.

The Warriors had committed the unforgivable sin, tripping an opponent in the 18-yard box.

So with one lunge at the ball, Chmura buried his penalty kick, sending the Warriors to squeak out the sixth and final playoff berth, launching his Hawks to a fourth-place finish, setting up a post-season match today at 1:00 p.m. with the Guelph Gryphons.

Chmura’s third goal of the campaign, however, signals more than serving up the playoff pecking order.

The freshman’s tally to salvage the game for the Hawks painted a representative portrait of the next wave of youngsters answering the call of duty for Laurier’s soccer program all season long. The plethora of fresh-faced newcomers, including Chmura, David Corazzola and Sandro Stojakovic collected 10 goals between the three of them, with Stojakovic’s five leading the way.

“I would have been surprised for sure,” said team captain Ben Clifford when asked what his thoughts would have been two months ago, had he known a fourth-place finish was in the cards for the Hawks.

“I’m really impressed… We’re a young team, and we’re looking to mature. We’re learning a lot this year and we have a couple key older guys that are helping out.”

Chmura and Stojakovic have drawn the most accolades from captain and coach alike.

“Donald has played really well. He’s matured over the season and had a very good game today,” said Clifford. “Sandro’s got a bright future ahead of him,” said head coach Mario Halapir. “Both of those guys will be very good players in this league in the years to come.”

Halapir wants to keep his high-flying baby Hawks nested.

“Because we’re young and we’ve had to deal with so many injuries, the season’s been a challenge. It hasn’t allowed us the ability to settle the way we should, but in saying that, we’re going to do our very best to prepare the team.”

Along with the rookies, captain and coach both lauded the efforts from their back end.

“Trevor (Schein), Eamonn (Hardy) and Chris (Walker) have been outstanding all season, they’ve really made a difference,” said Halapir. “Eamonn’s experience is key to calm guys down. He always plays it out nice and safe,” said Clifford of the transferred ex-Western player.

Like their gridiron brothers, the Hawks now focus their sights on a Gryphons team with whom they split the season series 1-1.

Guelph took the most recent match on Oct.13, 3-2.

“Playoffs are a learning experience,” said Halapir. “Adjusting to university soccer will take some time. We’ll see how fast they learn.”

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