The Lehigh men’s soccer team will welcome eight student athletes to the class of 2020 this fall. The defending Patriot League champions will lose seven seniors to graduation and will look to the newcomers for immediate contributions.
The group comes from eight different states and consists of two goalkeepers, two center backs, two outside backs and two forwards. Lehigh’s assistant coach Ryan Hess said there is a lot of excitement surrounding this class, and he expects all of the players will fit Lehigh’s style of play.
“All of the guys specifically will offer us something a little bit different to each other and to what we already have within the program,” Hess said. “They will all fit specific positional needs we have as we lose a really strong group of players to graduation this year.”
Lehigh head coach Dean Koski agreed with Hess. He said the group should be balanced.
“I am very pleased with the group of incoming freshmen, primarily because we filled all of our positional needs for next year,” Koski wrote in an email. “They all bring different skill sets, playing styles and personalities that will be strong additions to our team playing style and culture. Hopefully, some will contribute sooner rather than later, but all of them will be important to the success of our team.”
Hess said the entire class is wrapping up its high school careers with successful senior seasons. In particular, Will Smith of Devon, Pennsylvania, will come to Lehigh after a big year, helping lead his Lehigh Valley United team to a No. 4 national ranking.
Smith, a local product, is a goalkeeper with good size and athleticism. Smith hails from the same high school as junior midfielder Danny Gonzalez and sophomore defender David Zipkin.
“Will Smith is having an incredible season with his Lehigh Valley United U18 team, also coming on the heels of a standout year with his Conestoga High School team,” Hess said.
The coaching staff said there was a particular focus on the defensive side of the field with this recruiting class. They looked to fill the needs of the team based on what it lost to graduation.
The coaches also made an effort to recruit all over the country. It was important for them to find players in different realms of the soccer landscape.
“It helps to have some different perspectives as they join the team,” Hess said. “Some of them played in the U.S. Developmental Academy, some played in the high school and club environment, and one played in the prep school environment.”
The class of 2020 will join the team with a little added pressure, as Lehigh looks to follow up the success of 2015. The coaches believe this group will be able to handle that pressure.
“All eight of the guys are high character young men, they are great people and citizens and that is always the No. 1 priority with anyone we bring into the program,” Hess said. “I know these players are capable and excited to take on that challenge of continuing to compete for championships.”