Both the Lehigh men’s and women’s soccer teams added some new faces to their starting lineups this fall, including two freshmen who have made their debuts as collegiate goalkeepers.
Maggie Ousouljoglou on the women’s team, and Thomas Chyzowych on the men’s, have gotten minutes in goal in some of the first games of the season.
Ousouljoglou said she was both excited and nervous after finding out she was selected for the position.
“Playing early on in the season as a goalie can add a lot of pressure to your plate,” Ousouljoglou said. “But I know my abilities and I know that the team has my back, so I was really excited to get out there and show what I have.”
Chyzowych said he wasn’t originally expecting to get minutes this early on in the season but was ready to do whatever his team needed of him.
“I came in just wanting to be the best me and help the team in whatever way that was,” Chyzowych said. ”I didn’t know it was going to be that early necessarily but I was ready for it when it came.”
Ousouljoglou played all 45 minutes of the second half of Lehigh’s first game of the season on Aug. 19 against Monmouth, when she made three saves and allowed two goals.
She has played the full 90 minutes in every game since her debut, tallying seven saves and two goals allowed against UPenn on Sept. 4 and earning her first shutout against St. John’s on Sept. 11.
She said she hopes to continue to show what she can do in goal.
“It was definitely something I was working towards,” Ousouljoglou said. “As far as in practice, it’s been very close. It kind of just came down to who the coaches felt was going to be the best to put in at that time. In that game, it was me. So, I’m glad I got the opportunity and hope to continue that as the season goes on.”
Chyzowych played 90 minutes in the men’s second game of the season on Aug. 29 against UMBC, making seven saves and allowing two goals.
Men’s soccer coach Dean Koski said Chyzowych is sharing goalkeeper time with sophomore Ryan Gross, and it has been helpful to have both available to step in at different moments.
“We always hope for every player to come in ready to play whether they’re a freshman or a senior,” Koski said. “When Thomas (Chyzowych) stepped in, he did a good job and certainly showed that he can step in if we need him to.”
Both Chyzowych and Ousouljoglou said they came to Lehigh because of the soccer programs and academic reputation.
“It has a portfolio of things that I want to do after my soccer team, and the soccer team is just so close,” Chyzowych said. “It’s such a tight-knit community. I really love that community aspect which I didn’t find at a lot of other schools.”
Ousouljoglou said she has also been able to build relationships with the upperclassmen on the team, which has made her feel more prepared to step into her role.
She said they have had a lot of time to bond considering they practice six days a week. She said the team will typically warm up together, then the goalies will do their training separately before all meeting up again to discuss gameplans.
“A lot of it is off the field, as well as on the field,” Ousouljoglou said. “Hanging out with everyone as much as we can, whether it’s a formal meeting or not, just being around each other. Being close that way off the field so that when we come on the field and in tight situations, we know we can rely on each other and are comfortable together.”
Both squads play next on Sept. 16 against Patriot League rivals. The women will take on Army on the road and the men square off against American at home.