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(Photo Credit: Thomas Kolodziej)
(Photo Credit: Thomas Kolodziej)
PREVIEW: Men's soccer battles Western
WATERLOO, Ont. (October 24, 2012) - Back in the playoffs for the first time in two years, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's soccer team will begin their run at an OUA Championship Wednesday night when they take on the Western Mustangs.

Laurier, who earned the sixth seed in the OUA West after finishing with a 5-6-5 record, will be looking to upset the third-seeded Mustangs, who finished six points ahead of the Golden Hawks after posting a 7-4-5 record.

It's been an up and down season so far for the Hawks as injuries have taken their toll on the team after a hot start to the year. However, according to head coach MARIO HALAPIR, this team has the ability to play with any team in the league thanks to their strong technical play.

Offensively, Laurier will hope to have leading scorer Robert Kardaras of Markham, Ont., back in the lineup. The second year forward led the team with four goals this season and can be a dynamic presence on the field when healthy. If Kardaras can't go, expect Adrian Bucksam of Mississauga, Ont., to have a chance to chip in as well as Alejandro Diaz-Loyola of Mexico City, Mexico.

In the midfield is where the Hawks are hurting most late in the season. Justin Manning of Milton, Ont., is the biggest name who might be missing from the Laurier midfield but look for Sean Malizia of Burlington, Ont., and Giorgio Delgado of Burlington, Ont., to fill in the middle.

On the back end, Trevor Schein of Brantford, Ont., and Troy Puckerin of Burlington, Ont., have anchored the Hawks defenders all season long and they will need to be at their best to shut down the Mustangs. Brett Harrington of Tillsonburg, Ont., who had six shutouts this season, is expected to start in net.

While the Hawks did not pick up a win against Western this year, they will be looking to their first game against the Mustangs as motivation as to how they can perform against their opposition tonight. Laurier earned a difficult 2-2 draw with the Mustangs back in September on the road, a game that they led late in the match. If they can duplicate that effort in tonight's game, the Hawks could be looking at advancing to face the No. 1 York Lions in the OUA Quarter-finals this weekend.

Kickoff for tonight's OUA First Round matchup is set for 8 p.m. at TD Waterhouse Stadium in London.
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