The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Soccer opens its season, draws in first two matches

Junior Lawrence Aydlett works around a Drexel defender in their 1-1 draw on Aug. 28. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The Leopards’ men’s soccer season kicked off this week with two draws at the hands of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks and the Drexel University Dragons.

In the 13th minute of its game versus the Riverhawks, Lafayette had its first opportunity to alter the scoreboard. Sophomore defender Nicholas Liebich headed a ball back across the box off a corner by senior midfielder Benji Grossi. Junior midfielder Carter Houlihan made a play on the ball just inside the six-yard box, but UMass-Lowell’s keeper made the save.

Lafayette continued to command possession until the scoring seal was finally broken. Senior forward Hale Lombard made his presence known in the 26th minute. Lombard initially tracked the ball down 20 yards from the goal before it ricocheted off a defender. 

The Leopards managed to net the opening goal in both matchups, which proved to be a vital factor in avoiding a loss, according to junior forward Lawrence Aydlett.

“Scoring first is very important in preventing losses and we did just that in both games,” Aydlett wrote in an email. “Scoring first helps because it takes pressure off of the team and creates even more chances for the offense to get another, as the other team has to become more aggressive offensively and leave gaps in their defense.”

However, this opening score was not quite enough to keep the Riverhawks at bay. In the 42nd minute, UMass Lowell leveled the action with a header.

The second half of play started slower in comparison with the first, as both teams played more conservatively. The final 45 minutes of play were filled with missed opportunities for both teams.

Junior goalkeeper Griffin Huff concluded the night without a save, which brought light to the Leopards’ defensive performance. When the final whistle blew, the match ended all square at 1-1.

Aydlett praised the defensive performance of his first-year teammate Nick Liebich, specifically his contributions that were not accounted for on the stat sheet.

Our … center-back Nick Liebich had some key clearances that prevented some clear goal-scoring opportunities,” Aydlett wrote.

The Maroon and White then battled Drexel University on Monday night. 

In the 11th minute, senior forward Hale Lombard had the most optimal chance of the first half for the Leopards, thanks to a cross from Grossi. Grossi directed the ball right into the trail of Lombard, but Lombard’s header flew just above the crossbar.

With 20 minutes to go in the first half, Drexel began to build its own momentum. The Dragons controlled the majority of the possession in the first half, accumulating 63 percent possession when the halftime whistle finally blew. 

In the 59th minute, Aydlett catapulted Lafayette in front with a remarkable finish. Off the assist from Grossi, Aydlett whipped the ball between the posts and the Leopards took a 1-0 lead.

However, the momentum turned in the 83rd minute, when Drexel scored the equalizing—and final—goal.

There were several factors that contributed to these matches ending in draws rather than wins; Aydlett outlined the central factor as a focus issue.

“A loss of focus during both games led to both games ending in a draw. Both goals that we conceded came from us losing track of our marks in the box, which ultimately can be traced back to a loss of focus,” Aydlett wrote. 

The Maroon and White have several weaknesses in their game that they must consider in order to convert these draws into wins.

“We can improve on both sides of the ball in order to turn these [draws] into wins,” Aydlett wrote. “On the offensive side, putting away our chances to expand our lead by more than just one would certainly turn these draws into wins. On the defensive side, staying focused on keeping a clean sheet would also help turn these draws into wins as we were up a goal both games.”

The Leopards will likely keep these suggestions in mind as they transition into their first road match of the season at 4 p.m. on Friday against the Siena Saints.

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Luke Gutleber
Luke Gutleber, Staff Sports Writer

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