Defense: The key to the Leopard’s success

Ryan Egan ‘17 looks to score against Albany. [Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications]

Ryan Egan ‘17 looks to score against Albany. [Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications]

Team limits opponents to five goals on the year

Despite a loss to Albany this past Tuesday the Lafayette Men’s Soccer team is off to a promising start. The squad’s current 3-2-3 record shows improvement over their two previous losing seasons.

According the 14th year head coach Dennis Bohn, the difference in 2015 has been maturity.

“The last couple years we’ve played a couple of close games where we’ve either tied or unfortunately gave up a goal late,” Bohn said. “I think we’re playing very similar to the way we’ve played in the last two seasons, but in the tight situations we’re handling them just a little bit better.”

Junior captain Ryan Egan agrees.

“We’re just making more plays this year,” said Egan, a starting midfielder. “We’re really focusing on execution in the final third and just working as hard as you can for the guy next to you.”

Despite this execution, the team has tallied a high number of tied matches so far. This is not uncommon, according to Bohn.

“There’s a lot of parody in college soccer,” Bohn said. “We just want to keep turning losses in the past into ties, and ties into wins. If you can do that, you’ll have a successful season.”

Each tied game has ended with no goals scored by either team. Sophomore goalkeeper Brad Seeber and Egan attribute this to the squad’s solid defense.

“The chemistry on the defense is great,” Seeber said. “There has only been one game where I’ve had to make over five saves and that’s just a testament to them.”

“Our defense has been phenomenal,” Egan added. “Less than a goal a game. They’re really holding it down, but offensively we’ve got to make plays.”

Goal distribution has also been a major factor. In the eight matches this season, eight different players have scored for the Leopards. This spread can be both helpful and hurtful for a squad finding themselves regularly stuck in close competition.

“We don’t have one player who we can rely on to score 10 or 12 goals, so we’ve kind of taken it as a challenge,” Bohn said. “From the beginning of the season we were going to need diverse scoring from a bunch of players and we’ve gotten that.”

In their match against Albany this week, the Leopards gave up a goal in the second half after a hard fought first half. According to Seeber, Lafayette knew they would be facing some of the best tactical forwards they would see all season in Albany’s three Brazilian players.

“We gave up an unfortunate goal,” Seeber said. “Our defense played well and I think it just showed us we can really play with some of the best forwards. Now it’s just putting goals up on the board, which I have all the faith in the world about. It’ll come.”

With Patriot League play starting tomorrow against Army, the squad will rely on this tight game experience, as well as help from freshmen and walk-ons as they step up to fill positions open due to injuries. Despite their 1-0 loss to Army last year, Seeber is confident about Saturday.

“This is the best start we’ve had since I’ve been here, and even the year before I came in,” Seeber said.

The team will look to improve on their good start and stay consistent in the season to come.

“We’ve shown glimpses of a lot of positive things over the years,” Bohn added. “But we’ve never sustained it, and it’s a challenge after a successful start for us, as a group, to sustain that mentality and performance level as we continue through the rest of the season.”

Todd Forrester ‘16 escapes an Albany defender. [Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications]
Todd Forrester ‘16 escapes an Albany defender. [Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications]