Chances dwindling: Time running out for men’s soccer

Drew Friedman

Photo by Austin Drucker ’17

MSoccer(Dodds)_AustinDrucker17

Lafayette men’s soccer has been the definition of inconsistency this season.

Between seven overtime ties, a second-ranked defense and a league-worst shots per game statline, the Leopards (4-4-7 overall, 2-4-1 Patriot League) cannot find solid footing the year after they were the most consistently sound team in the league en route to a league championship.

This week was no different. Lafayette lost 3-0 to Bucknell (9-5-1, 3-3-1 PL), which started the game tied for fifth with the Leopards in league standings.

“We’ve had our struggles offensively in trying to score goals,” midfielder Alec Golini ‘14 said. “We’ve had our chances, but we haven’t had that final product.”

The offensive struggle was on display last weekend against American University as well but was balanced out by a strong defensive performance. Lafayette tied its seventh game this season in its first visit to American’s Reeves Field since their 2-0 victory in 2012 Patriot League Championship.

The tie made an excruciatingly tight race to qualify for the league playoffs that much tighter.

“There is a large group of teams competing for the remaining four playoff spots,” head coach Dennis Bohn said. “There is a ton of parity in our league so the standings are always tight.”

Lafayette goalkeeper Nathan McDonald ‘14 was a standout in the draw with six saves. It was the seventh time this season McDonald has recorded a shutout and the 18th of his collegiate career.

That defensive stinginess has become the team’s trademark in 2013.

“Our strong points has obviously been our defense,” midfielder Chandler Fraser-Pauls ‘15. “They have kept us in every game and have just done a remarkable job all season.”

The Leopards had their chances to score in the first half and played their way to seven corner-kick opportunities.

As the season builds to a fever pitch, Bohn has identified the keys to his team’s finish.

“We have been focused on passing and finishing around the box as well as defending and attacking set pieces,” he said. “These elements of the game will most likely determine our season.”

“Our team is working hard and creating chances. We just need to stay aggressive and make plays.”

League games against Army and Loyola Maryland remain. With each one classified as must win, Lafayette cannot afford to look past either opponent, needing to win out and hope for some luck in order to qualify for postseason play.

“We have been focusing on only the next game and nothing in front of that,” Ryan Dodds ‘15 said.

Fraser-Pauls agrees.

“Our team just needs to continue to stay focused and realize that every game for the rest of the season is the biggest game of the season,” he said.