Trevor Koski, junior midfielder, scored the only goal in the 54th minute off of a free kick taken by sophomore midfielder Nick Jennings. Lehigh men’s soccer defeated Manhattan College on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2019. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sportss)

Depth is key for men’s soccer in season opening victory

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The Lehigh men’s soccer team defeated Manhattan College 1-0 on Saturday to clinch its first home win of the season.

Junior midfielder Trevor Koski scored the only goal in the 54th minute off of a free kick taken by sophomore midfielder Nick Jennings.

Junior midfielder Stevo Bednarsky said that although the season is just beginning, it is apparent the roster’s depth will contribute to the team’s potential for this season. He said this gives a competitive edge, both on match days and in practices. 

“I think if we can keep everyone healthy and keep a competitive drive through practices, that’ll help us when Patriot League play comes,” Bednarsky said.

Bednarsky said the depth in the roster fosters constructive competition within the team dynamic. Each player heads into practice knowing he has to prove himself and compete for his spot in the starting lineup. 

“If they don’t step up, there’s guys right up behind them that can come in, so that’s huge,” Bednarsky said.

Fifth-year midfielder Alex Greene sat out all of last year from an injury after starting in every game in the 2017 season.  Despite the missed time, Greene, along with senior defenseman Zarin Tuten, were both named to the 2019 Preseason All-Patriot League team.

Like Bednarsky, Greene emphasized the importance of the team’s deep roster.

“We brought in a lot of freshmen and we didn’t graduate many seniors last year so we have a lot deeper bench this year,” Greene said. “We’ll play a lot of guys and I think it’ll help us maintain our level of play throughout the entire season. It’ll help a lot.”

Greene did not play in Saturday’s game, but said he is excited for what his senior campaign has in store. He stressed that above all, he would love to deliver a Patriot League Championship for Lehigh as he closes out his college career.

“I’m glad that no one forgot about me,” Greene said. “That puts a bit of pressure on me, because even though I was out for a year everyone remembers what I can bring to the team. I have high expectations and I hope I can continue to do what I’ve done in the past.”

The Mountain Hawks will travel to Evanston, Illinois, next weekend to face Northwestern (1-1) and Wisconsin (1-1). Bednarsky said the early momentum will be helpful as the team faces accomplished programs. 

Associate coach Ryan Hess said the scheduling was intentional — he thinks that the team is capable of winning these high-level games.

“We won’t change our approach, we’ve set up a really difficult schedule for the players by design,” Hess said. “One of the most important things is that they asked to play top teams, and that’s what our guys want and what we want as a staff. We’re extremely excited, we know that any time we play a Big Ten opponent the physicality is going to be there, the resiliency is going to be there, it’s an extremely difficult league.”

Lehigh will aim to continue to improve in both practices and games in order to prepare for Patriot League play. 

“It’s extremely exciting from a coaching perspective because we feel that we can push the guys even more in training,” Hess said. “We can create practices that are difficult knowing that there is competition and the guys will rise to that.”

The Mountain Hawks will face Northwestern on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium.

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