The Lehigh men’s soccer team is in the middle of its spring offseason, in which it plays six games to prepare for the official fall season.
The Mountain Hawks didn’t enter the win column in the fall of 2021 until the 10th game of the season, losing eight of their nine first games.
Associate head coach Ryan Hess said the team wished the start of the fall 2021 season could’ve been stronger, but the challenges served as motivation for team-wide growth to turn the second half of the season around.
“The opportunity to dig ourselves out of a hole was something that was really important to us and a great learning experience,” Hess said. “We got to reset our expectations and the goals of the program in terms of how we work and how we arrive at preseason ready to compete.”
Hess said one focus for the team in spring training is to get back to the basics in how the team attacks and defends, as well as to come together and develop a sense of purpose within each player to improve their game for the next official season.
Hess said he thinks the team has emerged from the fall season re-energized and prepared to work hard at improving.
Freshman forward Perry Kingson said he credits the team’s overall growth and success he witnessed during his first collegiate season to the chemistry and bonds they built despite some challenges during the season.
“When things got hard, we were able to rely on each other and that definitely helped us a lot,” Kingson said. “Everyone’s got each other’s backs, and I think going through that rough patch in the fall season definitely brought us closer.”
Kingson said the spring has been about experimenting with new formations, enjoying the game and making sure they are prepared to play to their best once they enter the fall season.
He said he is hopeful the team will make it to the NCAA tournament and make strides in the Patriot League portion of the season if they can carry the same attitude they have had during this off-season into the fall.
Freshman defender Yoni Aidlberg said fall training focuses on preparing for each game, strategizing for the specific competition and recovering from the game before.
“It’s been about getting out there, playing, being creative, taking chances, making mistakes and learning from your mistakes,” Aidlberg said.
Hess said the winter and spring are valuable for the coaching staff since they can focus on improving players’ technical skills without the added pressure of fighting for a spot on the starting roster.
Another important part of preparing the team for the upcoming season will be ensuring the team is in the right mental space, Hess said.
The Mountain Hawks play Navy on April 16 and rival Lafayette on April 22 before the Alumni Game on April 30, which will be played at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
“Now, it’s honestly just about bringing all that team chemistry we have on and off the field together into a winning mentality where we go out there, play our soccer and give it our all,” Aidlberg said.
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