In the last 10 years, the Lehigh men’s soccer team advanced beyond the quarterfinal game of the Patriot League Tournament once. The one time came in 2015, when the team went on to become Patriot League champions.
Excluding 2015, Lehigh’s 2017 season ended no differently than the rest of the team’s tournament runs.
The No. 4 seed Mountain Hawks (11-7-1, 5-4-1 Patriot) were shut out by No. 5 seed Holy Cross (7-8-3, 5-3-2 Patriot) in the quarterfinal game of the Patriot League Tournament on Tuesday at Ulrich Sports Complex, 3-0.
The loss knocked the Mountain Hawks out of the Patriot League Tournament, ending the team’s postseason almost as quickly as it started.
Sophomore goalie Will Smith said the match was a “must-win,” especially because it had the potential to be the last game of the team’s seven seniors’ Lehigh athletic careers at Ulrich Sports Complex.
“It’s really about honoring the seniors,” coach Dean Koski said. “They’ve had a great career.”
Smith tallied one save over the course of the game, allowing the three Holy Cross goals of the game all within the first thirteen minutes of the tournament battle.
Smith said the team has struggled defensively this year and has had good games and bad games.
This was one of the bad ones.
After the team was faced with a 3-0 deficit during the first half, Smith said the Mountain Hawks realized they had “messed up” and needed to come back from it and break the offensive drought.
“Offensively, we knew that we had to be more aggressive because it wasn’t one or two. We needed three (goals),” senior forward Doyle Tuvesson said.
During halftime, Smith said the team knew that while the first half was over and couldn’t be changed, the Mountain Hawks had to turn around the game.
Lehigh took 22 shots throughout the match, seven of which were on goal. The team had 12 corner attempts. Despite having countless opportunities to score, the Mountain Hawks still came up empty-handed.
Koski said while Lehigh played most of the game in Holy Cross’ territory, the team wasn’t able to deliver and ultimately was handed a disappointing loss.
“When you give up three goals in the first 15 minutes, then for any team, whether it’s in a playoff game or not, it’s a tough start,” Koski said. “For whatever reason, we got it wrong. I accept responsibility for that. I just don’t think I did a good job preparing this team for this game.”
Koski said Holy Cross had the Mountain Hawks figured out and combining that with the team’s attacking abilities gave the Crusaders the win.
The Mountain Hawks’ string of losses to Holy Cross extends back to 2014, the last time Lehigh beat the Crusaders.
Koski said despite the tough loss, Lehigh competed up until the final whistle.
“They didn’t quit,” Koski said. “They kept competing. That’s what we want.”
Koski said the team’s seniors have continuously brought that effort and commitment to games throughout their time as Lehigh men’s soccer players.
“We’ve had ups and downs, and while you don’t like to go out from that, you can only learn and know that, in anything soccer life, you just have to work hard and nothing’s going to be handed to you just because you have better players or a better team,” Tuvesson said. “Work effort is everything.”