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 championship preview

Leopards to face Boston for Patriot League title
Members+of+the+soccer+team+thank+fans+after+their+quarterfinal+victory+over+American+University.+%28Photo+by+Rick+Smith+for+GoLeopards%29+
Members of the soccer team thank fans after their quarterfinal victory over American University. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The men’s soccer team (9-5-6 overall, 4-2-3 Patriot League) will travel to Boston today for a shot at the Patriot League Championship, facing the No. 1 seed Boston University Terriers (11-3-4 overall, 7-1-1 Patriot League).

While Boston holds the high ground as the top seed, the No. 3 seed Leopards took out the Terriers in their regular season matchup in October. In a soggy match at Gummeson Grounds, Lafayette scored two late first-half goals to win 2-0.

The semifinal on Tuesday saw the Leopards and Terriers both win 2-0 against Loyola Maryland and Colgate, respectively. The Terriers battled the Raiders in a defensive struggle, with Boston graduate student and midfielder Colin Innes scoring a brace in the final 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, Lafayette had to fight in double overtime against Loyola, with the match deadlocked at 0-0 after the end of regulation. In the 117th minute, freshman forward Roy Biegon broke through with a challenging header goal. Minutes later, senior captain Hale Lombard scored the final goal after a fantastic run and assist from senior midfielder Benji Grossi.

Lombard has scored 11 goals this season, putting him in contention for the Golden Boot in the Patriot League with the most goals scored. Two of Biegon’s three goals this fall have come at clutch moments during the postseason.

Lafayette’s semifinal victory over Loyola was an instance of sweet revenge after the Greyhounds took down the Leopards 2-0 last month. The Leopards had a similar number of shots in both games (12 and 11), but played a far more defensively solid match in the semifinal. Loyola was only able to manage two shots in the entire match.

The Leopards made the final in 2019 where they lost to Lehigh, then returned to the contest during the abbreviated spring 2021 season. In that game, they heartbreakingly lost to American in overtime. Lafayette was hurt by a red card in the second half of that contest.

For Lafayette to replicate its success against the Terriers, it will have to stay strong offensively, employing similar strategies used in its regular season victories. The midfielders are notably quick with their touch, and they will have to move the ball well to set up Lombard and his finishing ability.

In October, Lafayette also frustrated the Terriers with its defensive abilities. The leading goal-scorer for Boston University was only able to manage one shot in the entire match.

However, this match may be more of a mental battle than a physical battle. The Terriers will surely come into this final with a new game plan, in addition to the confidence that comes along with being the No. 1 seed. While the Leopards do hold some degree of confidence after their regular season win, it will be tough going up against Boston’s home-field advantage.

Yet, going into a final, Lafayette does know how to win this matchup, something they didn’t have in 2019 and 2021. In 2019, they tied Lehigh in the regular season without a single goal scored. In 2021, the pandemic restrictions meant Lafayette played American for the first time in the championship.

All players, from the starting lineup to substitutes, will have to be able to retain the muscle memory of how the Terriers play on the pitch. If they can bring back the high level of play against Boston University from October, this is a great opportunity for Lafayette to clinch its first Patriot League men’s soccer title since 2012.

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About the Contributor
Andreas Pelekis
Andreas Pelekis, Assistant News Editor
Tennis addict.

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