Lehigh men’s soccer looks to capture back-to-back Patriot League Championships-The Brown and White
The Lehigh men’s soccer team will begin their season against American University on March 6th in Washington DC
The Mountain Hawks brought home the Patriot League Championship in 2019 and increased the pressure to defend their title.
“I think we’ve had a goal on our backs since last season, as any team would when it ended a championship season,” said junior goalkeeper Noah Sutherland.
With only six games this season, Sutherland said that they view every game as a must, but that they have a strong mentality going into the season.
Despite pressures to do well in a shortened season, second defender Euan Forrest said everyone is excited to finally play again after a long off-season.
“As soon as you step on the field, you wear the uniform and stand next to your teammates. It’s a special feeling and something that is difficult to recreate outside of yourself,” said Forrest. “We cannot replicate that in practice. It’s not an atmosphere that we can achieve on our own. It’s something that only comes on match days so it’s going to be super exciting. “
Forrest said it was difficult to train last semester without knowing what they were training for.
When the team trained in the fall, they didn’t know if they had a spring season.
“As each day got closer and closer to a season, it was a lot easier for everyone to stay focused and motivated,” said Forrest.
The exercises for the soccer team began in small groups with an emphasis on distancing and individual training. As Lehigh’s restrictions eased, the men’s soccer team has slowly incorporated the entire team’s personal drills into their schedule.
Deputy head coach Ryan Hess said that with all 23 sports in action, the practices work differently so that each team can safely share the space.
Hess said flexibility is particularly important with all teams in action.
“The time we practice is different,” said Hess. “What we do every week is quite different. For the most part we practice in the evening. Every day is just trying to make sure that we prepare the guys physically, mentally and tactically for the games. ”
While the men’s soccer team shot down a few star players last spring, they still have the majority of their top players from the 2019 championship run.
Young striker Josh Luchini has been included in the MAC Hermann Award Watchlist, which is given to the best male and female college footballers. Senior Stevo Bednarsky was named a preseason midfielder and junior Nick Jennings was named a preseason All-Patriot League team. Lehigh was also selected to win the Patriot League again and received 17 votes in first place in the preseason poll.
“It’s been a long time since we played the game,” said Hess. “But we’re fortunate to have a really great group of high school students who last saw us play games. So we’re really going to be leaning on them to show the newbies what the expectations are and what college football is all about. “
Sutherland said the emotional bonds between the players will help them thrive this season and in their upcoming game against American University.
“The relationships we have built on and off the field have really translated into the confidence on the field that we needed to be successful,” said Sutherland. “That is definitely what will lead to our success, is this trusting relationship and just the desire to play for the guy next to you.”