The Lehigh women’s soccer team started its season strong with a 2-1 record, shutting out both Mount St. Mary’s University and Binghamton University.
“To start off junior year that way was a good feeling and hopefully it will continue the momentum into finishing off the season,” junior forward Tori Pantaleo said.
The women’s soccer team went into the season with high expectations and is continuing that spirit as the games progress.
“We’re looking to win the Patriot League championship,” team captain and junior Laura Courtney said.
In order to do this, the team is looking to capitalize on its offensive game.
“The coaches have this idea of a scoring mentality, and I think that has really changed how driven we are when we have an opportunity at the goal,” Pantaleo said.
Freshman midfielder Sabrina Mertz added that the team is breaking the game down and working on the little aspects at practice, while always remaining focused on its goals. The team recognizes that every player has promising talent to bring to Lehigh soccer.
She added that the leadership extends beyond the captains, saying even the sophomores and freshmen are showing signs of being leaders as well.
The team looks to come out of the Patriot League on top this season despite its seventh place finish last season with a conference record of 2-3-4. Two out of three of its losses were away games, so the team looks to improve its record on the road.
“I think our biggest challenge is winning our big on-the-road games,” Courtney said. “We have Navy and Boston University on the road. Those are usually the two strongest teams that we play, so if we’re able to beat them, that can really set us up to be in a good spot in the league.”
The team has more away games this season than in the past and will need to make adjustments. Pantaleo said the team has to find a way to bring the atmosphere of the home locker room to away games.
While the team is working this season on improving its games on the road, it also hopes to carry over many positive habits from last year.
“A good thing we did last year was how well we kept the team close,” Pantaleo said. “With 26 girls, it’s a lot of girls to have to get along, and we get along very well. Last year we did and this year we do even better. It helps on the field a lot.”
Despite being new, Sabrina Mertz already feels like a part of the team. She said it was easy to adjust to them and that the players were really welcoming.
The team hopes to translate its close bonds into performance on the field, just as it did last season.
“I think we have to start out with baby steps, like winning a lot of the big games first, and then giving us the opportunity to win the Patriot League,” Mertz said.
The team’s next home game is Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. against Monmouth University.