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By Sean Maraj
Saturday was déja-vu once again, as the Western men's soccer team tied the Laurier Golden Hawks for the second time this season 0-0 in their last game of the regular season.
The Mustangs started the weekend hoping to carry on their winning ways after beating McMaster 3-0 Thursday, however the Golden Hawks brought the Mustangs to a grinding halt.
Fighting sub-zero temperatures, non-stop rain and a slippery field, both teams were unable to put the ball in the net and reached a stalemate in a game highlighted by strong defence instead of sparkling offensive displays.
Mustang head coach Rock Basacco pointed to his team's defence as their strength during the rainy game. "They played strong defensively," he said. "Goalie Mike Potts had a strong game in controlling the defence, but the pouring rain and field conditions weren't good."
Basacco cited the weather and field conditions as other factors the defence overcame, containing the Laurier offence. "Our goalkeeper had to be sure he didn't give up any rebounds. The defence also played well with crisp passing," he said.
Western's midfielder and veteran Alan Hume said he was happy with his team's performance despite the score. "I think we played really well defensively. The conditions hampered us overall it was a good defensive game," he said.
Laurier head coach Barry MacLean downplayed the significance of the game and pointed out that before the game, both teams had already secured a playoff position as well as their final standings for the regular season.
"To be honest the game didn't mean anything," MacLean said. "Western finished first, we finished second."
However, MacLean pointed out the game was hard to play, especially with the pelting rain and the cold temperatures.
Laurier has been the only team who has given the Mustangs trouble all year. The Golden Hawks could potentially be a problem for Western in the post season, as the team embarks on its mission to repeat as national champions.
"Laurier is definitely a good team," Hume said. "The conditions weren't the best and I'm not too concerned," he added about Laurier's threat to the Mustangs.
Basacco said he was also not concerned with the two ties his team has had against Laurier, adding both times the Mustangs have played better offensively. "In both games I think we created more chances and we created better chances."
As for the impending playoffs, MacLean said he believes Western has the potential to win the OUA finals once again. He added it would take a major upset to stop the Mustangs from reaching the top.
"Western is clearly the best team," MacLean said. "I expect Western to get through the first round without a hitch. Something drastic would have too happen for Western not to make the finals."