The Lafayette men’s soccer team earned their second Patriot League victory after taking down Holy Cross 2-1 last Saturday. The Leopards got out to a fast start, powered by two first half goals in a span of four minutes, and were able to close out the rest of the game for their second win of a shortened season.
The junior class put on a show with midfielder Sebastian Varela and forward Marcos Kitromilides leading the way with a goal apiece. Varela recorded a team-high four shots, with three on goal, and found the back of the net in the 31st minute to put the Leopards ahead 1-0.
“The team worked really hard to make sure we were fit and tactically sound coming into the game,” Varela said.
In the first home game of his collegiate career, freshman midfielder Carter Houlihan recorded his first career assist on Varela’s goal. Houlihan suffered from some of the usual pregame jitters, but it did not seem to affect his play.
“I was expecting to be nervous,” Houlihan said. “Throughout warmups I was pretty nervous, but when the game started it just felt like any other game. It was a great experience all in all.”
Varela, along with Kitromilides, earned conference weekly honors for their standout performances. Varela was named the Patriot League Midfielder of the Week while Kitromilides took home the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week award.
Less than four minutes after Varela scored, Kitromilides notched his first goal of the season to put the Leopards up 2-0 before halftime. Sophomore midfielder Benji Grossi was credited with the assist, his first of the season.
“We showed that we started from where we ended our last season and reminded everyone that we are here for nothing less than the Patriot League title,” Kitromilides said.
The Leopards held a 2-0 advantage at halftime, but the Crusaders came out strong in the second half with two quick shots and a goal in the 66th minute to cut the lead to one.
Lafayette’s defense proved sturdy in the final minutes of regulation and held on for the win, moving the team’s record to 2-0 in an abbreviated spring season. Junior goalkeeper Alex Sutton played the entire 90 minutes against Holy Cross, allowing one goal and recording two saves to rally the Leopard defense.
The Leopards outshot Holy Cross by three, 11-8, and put four more shots on goal, 7-3. Lafayette also had one more corner kick than Holy Cross, 6-5.
Saturday’s game was the first time that fans were allowed back at Oaks Stadium since the beginning of the pandemic last March. Up to 50 students were allowed to register and attend the game although transportation to Metzgar Fields, which is off-campus, was not provided.
Varela, like many of the players, was happy to see fans in the stands after the COVID-19 pandemic cut last season short.
“My favorite moment of the game was looking over into the stands to see parents and students supporting the team almost a year after we had all been sent home at the start of the pandemic,” Varela said.
Next up for the men’s soccer team is a home match against Colgate tomorrow at 12 p.m. The last time the two teams faced off was in the fall 2019 Patriot League Quarterfinals, which the Leopards won 2-1.