Staying with the competition

(Photo by Samantha Kellerman)

Sitting at 4-2-2, the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s soccer team has a lot to be proud of.

Having already matched their win total from last year, the Hawks fell to the McMaster Marauders — who sit second place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division — 3-0 in an intense, but controversial game Sunday afternoon.

The Hawks managed to stick with the Marauders for the first half until the visitors broke free and found the net on three accounts.

After controversial calls from the referees and an ejection to Laurier netminder Brett Harrington, the Hawks were handed a loss.

But despite the loss Sunday afternoon, head coach Mario Halapir still looks on the weekend as a success.

“The game itself, before it was spoiled by the officiating crew, was actually well executed,” he said. “I think we came out. We had a game plan. The boys actually played very, very well.”

Laurier came off a 1-0 victory Saturday afternoon against University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa, where the field conditions were poor and difficult. The Hawks returned home to face McMaster not even 24 hours later.

“We played the night before and these guys didn’t,” Halapir said. “We played in knee-deep mud the night before. We’re still short energy, we showed composure and we held our shape really well. The game went according to plan.”

The Hawks handled the strong McMaster team well for the first 45 minutes of the match. The second half didn’t see scoring until the 60th minute, when a shot passed Harrington.

That opened up the floodgates, as Mac striker Mark Reilly found the back of the net twice to round out the scoring.

Although they received no points on the day, Halapir still believes the young squad will take away positive aspects of the weekend.

“I think overall we did a lot better than expected because of first-year players,” he said. “I’m pretty optimistic about the way things have gone so far and hopefully we’ll continue that.”

Halapir was visibly frustrated with the officials following the game, but he sees the experience as being a test for the young Laurier team.

“[This game] will definitely test their mentality and test what they’re made of. But I hope it doesn’t spoil what we’ve done so far,” he said.

But the effects of dealing with a controversial game will not be evident right away.

“We’re going to see that on the field,” Halapir said. “The only way we can see that is six games down the road and see how we react to something like this and how we deal with something like this. It’s a shame, it’s one of those things, but it’s just the way it goes.”

With only eight games left, the Hawks are improving overall on their record from last year.

The loss to McMaster was their first loss since their season opener to the York Lions.

“I’m actually quite happy with where we are right now and I’m quite happy with their performances.”

Laurier will host the Waterloo Warriors Friday before UOIT comes for a visit Sunday at Alumni Field. Game times are 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

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