WATERLOO, Ont. (October 21, 2014) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s soccer team will be in a very familiar, and comfortable, position as they kick off their quest for an OUA Championship on Wednesday night.
The Hawks (5-8-3), who enter the postseason as the sixth seed in the OUA West for the third straight season, will face the third-seeded Guelph Gryphons (9-2-5) in the opening round of the conference playoffs at 6 p.m. at the Gryphon Soccer Complex.
Wednesday’s showdown marks the second consecutive year that Laurier and Guelph have squared off in the opening round of the playoffs and just like this season, the Hawks entered as the sixth seed and the Gryphons entered as the third seed.
In that game a year ago, the purple and gold produced a stunning upset of the nationally-ranked Gryphons in a game that went to penalty kicks. After the two teams traded the lead over the course of regulation and overtime, Laurier successfully converted seven consecutive penalty kicks to send the Hawks through to the quarter-finals with a 4-3 win.
The win marked the second year in a row that Laurier, seeded sixth, had eliminated the third seed in the opening round of the playoffs. The Hawks also defeated Western 3-2 back in 2012.
This season, the two teams have met twice in, once again, highly entertaining contests. In the first game at Guelph, Gryphons striker Jared Agyemang of Brampton, Ont., scored in extra time to push Guelph past the Hawks 2-1. However, in the return leg at University Stadium just last week, the Hawks scored twice in the final two minutes, thanks to tallies from Justin Manning of Milton, Ont., and Nikola Miokovic of Kitchener, Ont., to earn a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Although 2014 has been an up-and-down season for Laurier, the team enters this contest riding high as they have a 2-0-1 record in their last three games. Offensively, the Hawks have enjoyed one of the best years in school history, going off for 40 goals in 16 games. Only two other editions of the purple and gold have scored more goals in a season with the 1987 team, OUA Champions that year, scoring 45 while the 1986 squad scored 41.
The difficulty for Laurier has been keeping the ball out of the net as the Hawks have allowed 33 goals this year, the highest amount ever by a Golden Hawk squad.
In order to counter that, the Hawks will need a strong effort from starting keeper Julien John of Oakville, Ont., on Wednesday. The former men’s football quarterback has been handed the starting reins this year and has produced a 4-7-2 record.
On the attack, head coach MARIO HALAPIR has plenty of weapons he can turn to for goals. Up front, Anastasios Sitaridis of Toronto, and Tyrrel Wilson of Hamilton, have been very good, each scoring seven times this year. The midfield has also played a big role in the team’s balanced offence as rookie Miokovic has six goals and second year midfielder Niklas Bauer of Newmarket, Ont., has three.
Defensively, the Hawks back line will have to pay special attention to OUA leading scorer Agyemang who finished the year with 16 goals. Timothy Flynn of Scarborough, Ont., will also be dangerous as he scored seven times in 2014.
Fans unable to attend Wednesday’s game can follow all the action on Twitter @WLUAthletics.