The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Men’s soccer ends losing streak with two conference clean sheets

Junior goalkeeper Griffin Huff controls the ball while holding the opposition scoreless. (Photo by Doug Kilpatrick for GoLeopards)

Coming off a three-game losing streak in which the Leopards failed to put a single ball in the net capped by a 3-0 road drubbing at the hands of Albany, the men’s soccer team (5-3-2 overall, 2-1 Patriot League) took the field against rival Lehigh last Saturday looking to turn its fortunes around. The Maroon and White did just that with a 1-0 victory over the Mountain Hawks and followed that up with a 1-0 win against Army on Wednesday night.

“We were really down after losing to Albany,” junior forward Lawrence Aydlett said. “We really looked ourselves in the mirror and our coach told us ‘What better opportunity to bounce back than the Lehigh game?’ We saw it as a must-win to get us going for the season and for the Patriot League.”

Lehigh was coming off its first win of the season, but the Leopards made sure not to let the Mountain Hawks carry over their momentum to begin the match. The rivalry lived up to its reputation as both teams traded possession for the first 20 minutes, neither team putting anything in the scorebook while earning one yellow card each.

“I think definitely coming into a rivalry game, there is a different mentality,” junior midfielder Digger Iqbal said. “We all knew how much it meant, not only to the team but to everyone else. We knew that we needed to put on a great performance.”

Then, Aydlett netted a ball off an assist from senior forward Hale Lombard breaking not only the 0-0 tie but also the Leopard’s almost 270-minute scoreless streak.

“That [goal] was huge for us,” Iqbal said. “[Aydlett] has been a really positive player on attack for us. We were really happy with the goal, it really gave us at the back and the midfield a little bit of breathing space to relax a bit more and play our own game instead of being all uptight.”

“Before the game in our huddle, we talked about setting the tone and trying to get a goal early,” Aydlett said. “We figured that getting a goal early would get in their head and we could easily control the game being up 1-0.”

In purs that goal, the defense for the Maroon and White took over as the Mountain Hawks put only one more shot on goal for the rest of the half.

The second half was more of the same. The Leopards defense continued to lock down any attempts from Lehigh to try and knot the score. Junior goalkeeper Griffin Huff notched three saves in the second half alone, leading to his first clean sweep in two weeks.

“Griffin has done really well for us, he is a big presence in goal,” Aydlett said. “He did a really good job shutting down everything they had.”

This victory marked the Leopards’ first victory over their rivals in three years. This was Iqbal’s first rivarly game after transferring from Bryant University.

“I didn’t realize how much it really meant until I stepped on the pitch and saw how many people were in the crowd, both from Lafayette and Lehigh.” Iqbal said. “When you see that, it gives you a little bit of extra energy and motivation in the game.”

After changing the momentum of their season with a rivalry game win, the Leopards returned home and defeated Army 1-0 Wednesday night.

The Leopards again struck first, as Lombard put a shot in the back of the net before the thirty-minute mark. Again, the Leopard’s defense stepped up in the first half, holding the Black Knights to just four shots, two of which were saved by Huff.

“We knew it was going to be a physical matchup but we knew it wasn’t going to be anything we couldn’t handle,” Aydlett said.

The Black Knights ripped off only one shot the entire second half as the Leopards defense completely clamped down on them en route to their second straight conference victory.

“I think if we win the next three games, we’re sitting really comfortably going into the Patriot League tournament,” Iqbal said. “I think our goal as a team is to put on a really good performance these next three games, get a shutout and put on a similar performance [to the game against] Lehigh.”

The Leopards will travel to Worcester, Massachusetts to play Holy Cross on Sunday.

Disclaimer: Assistant Sports Editor Eric Ponieman ’24 is a member of the men’s soccer team. He did not contribute writing or reporting. 

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Charlie Berman, Sports Editor

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