Each season, league play brings with it the opportunity for teams to face off against the previous year’s reigning league champion.
Now it’s time for the Lehigh men’s soccer team to take its shot at the champs.
The Mountain Hawks (6-3) are set to battle the defending Patriot League Champion Colgate University (3-7) on the road Wednesday.
Lehigh won its first Patriot League game of the season at home against Army West Point on Sept. 23, 1-0. The team lost its five-game winning streak Saturday at home to Patriot League opponent Boston University, 0-2. Seven of the team’s nine games before the Patriot League Championships are league play games.
Coach Dean Koski is confident the team is up to the challenge.
“We’ve had a tough schedule the first seven games of season and we are (6-3),” Koski said. “It’s a positive start.”
Koski said his team has been playing well and does not want to change its approach or mindset, both of which appear to be working for the team.
Senior forward Doyle Tuvesson said the team’s approach focuses on one game at a time, a mindset that senior defender and captain John Marc Charpentier echoed.
“The team is definitely up for the challenge,” Charpentier said. “We are only concerning ourselves with the next game.”
Koski said in preparing for each game, the team needs to be more precise with its shooting and take advantage of opportunities that other players create.
Tuvesson said Colgate will put up a fight, but the Mountain Hawks are ready.
“Colgate is the reigning league champ,” Tuvesson said, “so I would say that’s a game I really want to win.”
Part of the Mountain Hawks’ success this season can be attributed to the addition of freshman midfielder and defenseman Stevo Bednarsky. Freshmen are not typically part of the starting line-up, but Bednarsky is an exception. He has started every game.
“I tried to come into preseason and make a strong first impression for both the coaches and the rest of the team,” Bednarsky said. “Now I go into practice each day and continue to compete and work hard for the team in order to keep that starting position.”
Bednarsky proved he can be versatile when needed. He joined the team as a midfielder before falling back to the defensive line. While he said switching positions was difficult at first, the coaching staff and defenders helped to ensure a comfortable transition.
Bednarsky is still adjusting to the level of play and physicality of college soccer, but his teammates haven’t overlooked his impact on the team so far.
“Adding (Bednarsky) to the lineup has been huge,” Charpentier said. “(Bednarsky) is a complete player.”
Koski said Bednarsky’s greatest strengths are his attitude and consistency. He said Bednarsky wants to play, compete and help the team wherever he’s needed.
Tuvesson and Koski agree Bednarsky is ready to face Colgate and said his performance against Army proves he is up for any challenge that comes his way.