The offseason for most athletic teams is not a time for vacation but rather a chance to strengthen any weak points noticed during the season. Whether those weaknesses were physical, mental or related to team chemistry, the offseason provides teams with a time period to prepare for their regular season in a more focused manner.
This holds true for Lehigh’s women’s soccer team as it has just begun its spring season. For the Mountain Hawks, the spring season is split into two segments.
“The first is the building segment where we work with the strength and conditioning staff on strength, speed and agility as well as individual soccer with the team,” coach Eric Lambinus said. “Then comes the competitive segment, which is after spring break. We use the first two weeks after we return to prepare for our games and the last four weeks to play our five competitive games.”
The team tries to mimic the fall season as much as possible with its competitive segment. It plays only five games within a three-week span and treats that period exactly like the fall season, even playing games midweek during 4 o’clocks. It is required to play Patriot League games in the fall during 4 o’clocks weeks, so Lambinus said he likes to use the spring season to prepare the team for that strenuous academic and athletic period.
“The competition is still competitive in the spring,” sophomore forward/midfielder Lexi Chang said. “There is more of a range of teams that we play against. We’ll play Division III, Division II and Division I teams that are out of the Patriot League. It’s nice to play fresh and different teams to see how we compare.”
Another aspect of the spring season the team focuses on developing is its team goals.
“For the building segment, we are trying to improve individually both athletically and soccer-wise all while building team chemistry,” Lambinus said. “We try our best to implement the overall goal for Lehigh Athletics, which is the BetterME for BetterWE approach.”
Lambinus also said the team has added a new program called Fit for 90 that allows the coaching staff to track the team’s readiness and training loads throughout the competitive season. This lets the coaches better manage the team both mentally and physically.
Lambinus said the goal is to prepare the team over the course of the year through periodization training so it is close to 100 percent for all its competitive games.
“Our goals for the competitive segment are focused mainly on trying to prepare the team to play games,” freshman midfielder Sabrina Mertz said. “We try to put players in different positions and formations, so we have a better and complete understanding of how we are going to play next fall.”
Although the spring games do not contribute to an official record, they are a chance to try new things and get ready for the fall season.
“They are important to stay in shape and improve on things from the previous season,” sophomore Alyssa Riporti said. “The spring season is our chance to move forward in all aspects both on and off of the field and to gain momentum going into the fall.”