Sophomore midfielder/defender David Zipkin kicks the ball past senior forward/midfielder Jamie Luchini at a practice on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Lehigh men's soccer team will face College of the Holy Cross at home Saturday, Sept. 26. (Dallas Basha/B&W Photo)

Lehigh men’s soccer to open Patriot League play Saturday


Coming off a road trip to Pittsburgh this past weekend, Lehigh men’s soccer beat Robert Morris University on Friday when senior forward Jamie Luchini scored a goal in the last 25 seconds of double overtime.

Now, the Mountain Hawks (4-2-1) are ready and excited to move into Patriot League play. Its first league match will be against College of the Holy Cross.

On Sunday the team ended with a 0-0 tie against Saint Francis University.

“This past weekend we had in Pittsburgh was really good for us because it gave us a good simulation of the potential Patriot League semi final and final, which is our goal, having a Friday and a Sunday game,”  junior midfielder Danny Gonzalez said.

The Hawks have scored 10 goals in seven games total this season. That is four more goals than they had last season going into Patriot League play.

“We’ve been generating a lot of chances on the attack so our coaches have really been harping on the defensive side of the ball,” junior defender Justin Worley said. “Keeping everything out of the net and staying organized and ready. The biggest thing for us is to just be committed to a defending attitude heading into the Patriot League.”

Freshman forward Mark Forrest has gotten a large amount of playing time this season, garnering the Patriot League Rookie of the Week award. Forrest has scored one goal and three assists in the past seven games coming off the bench.

“From what I gather, everyone stresses it to be a much more serious type game than normal games,” Forrest said. “It’s a lot more physical game, so you have to be ready for that, and that’s a big thing that the (coaches) stressed.”

Going into Patriot League play, the only team with more wins than Lehigh is American University (6-2).

“Usually the toughest games are Bucknell, American, Boston University, and obviously we always want to beat Lafayette,” Worley said.

As with any other team in the league, the Hawks are looking to go undefeated but are taking it one game at a time.

Lehigh has not won a league title since 2000, but were in the championship in 2003 and 2004. Last year, the team finished the year 10-8-1 (5-3-1). This propelled the Hawks to Patriot League postseason play, but they failed to defeat Bucknell University in the quarterfinals, ending their strong season in the league.

“Guys are certainly excited to start Patriot League play,” Gonzalez said.

However, after they face Holy Cross on the Sept. 26, the team doesn’t go up against another Patriot League team until Oct. 3 when it plays Colgate University at home.

After this, they have two away games. In total, the team will face four other Patriot League teams on the road and five at home.

The team will play against Fordham University and James Madison University, both non-league games, in the midst of Patriot League season.

“The coaches have told us to not change anything,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve had a good start to the season so we need to just keep the ball rolling. We have to make sure everyone is ready for practice and they are ready for Patriot League.”

The Hawks will take on the Holy Cross Crusaders on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. at Lehigh’s Ulrich Sports Complex.

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