Men’s soccer will depend on leadership
With seven seniors and three fifth graders, Lehigh men’s football will rely on its veteran depth this season as they try to get another run at the Patriot League Championship.
The Mountain Hawks defeated Lafayette in the 2019 Patriot League Championship but failed to make the playoffs last season.
While they have seven freshmen, they also have seven sophomores who have not yet experienced a typical Division I football season.
Five-year-old midfielder Stevo Bednarsky said there will be a lot of focus on the older players to integrate the younger ones.
“This year the leadership will be done by a committee,” said Bednarsky. “We have a large group of guys who know the field and Lehigh.”
Senior striker Michael Tahiru attested a team culture that promotes quick learning and group leadership.
“Everyone on our team is encouraged to be a leader,” said Tahiru.
Associate Head Coach Ryan Hess said the team’s ability to prepare this season has been better.
Lehigh had a typical preseason in 2021, which they missed in 2020 due to the cancellation of autumn sports.
“It was important that we reposition ourselves and make sure that the boys had a good summer,” said Hess. “They didn’t have much time to prepare for spring as there weren’t that many opportunities to play together last winter.”
Tahiru said the knowledge of a full season to look forward to was an inspiring force for the team ahead of the competition.
Although going 2-4 was not planned in the spring, Lehigh is returning 18 players who won the Patriot League title in 2019.
“If we can all hold [winning a Patriot League Championship]as a daily goal, then good things should come, ”said Bednarsky.
According to a Patriot League poll conducted by the league office, Lehigh ranked fifth in the conference behind Loyola University (Maryland), American, Lafayette and Navy.
While polls can be important in recognizing teams in the league, Hess said the coaching staff don’t spend time checking them out with the team.
“It really doesn’t matter now to compare yourself to others,” said Hess. “Apart from that, we know that the league will be more talented and deeper than it has been for a long time. I think they are motivated on the heels of spring no matter where we are selected. “
Lehigh dropped their first three games without a conference against Manhattan (1-0), Vermont (3-0) and Pitt (2-1).
They are scheduled to play in Rutgers on September 10 and begin the Patriot League competition on September 18 against Loyola University, Maryland.