The Lafayette men’s soccer team ought to play in the spring more often. For the first time since 2008, the program has recorded five straight victories, the latest being a 2-1 win over Army last weekend which improved the team’s record to a perfect 5-0.
Sophomore forward Hale Lombard struck early with a second-minute goal, giving the Leopards a lead they would not relinquish.
“We came out and scored early, which is always a nice thing in the sport of soccer to play with a lead,” said head coach Dennis Bohn. “The old saying is, ‘when a goal is scored, the game basically starts over again.'”
A scrum in the box led to Lombard’s goal, as he corralled an errant pass from an Army defender and capitalized on the point-blank opportunity. The score was Lombard’s second of the season after he found the back of the net against Boston University the week prior.
Lombard isn’t resting on his laurels, however.
“Overall, I wasn’t that happy with my performance but I definitely came out with some positives,” he said.
The Leopards grabbed the early lead on Lombard’s goal but were outshot by Army 6-4 in the first half. Lafayette clung to the narrow 1-0 advantage at halftime.
“The first half after we scored I thought we struggled a little bit,” Bohn said. “But I was proud of how the guys regrouped at halftime and came out in the second half.”
The Leopards were still outshot in the second half, 7-5, but took a 2-0 lead on an own goal by the Black Knights in the 59th minute. Several Lafayette players put pressure on the opposing back line after a long throw-in, and a defender headed the ball into Army’s own net while trying to clear it.
“Even though we weren’t having our best game, we found a way to win,” Lombard said. “That’s a huge step forward, especially with playoffs coming up because you never know what’s going to happen.”
The goal ended up mattering, as the Black Knights closed the gap in the 86th minute with a penalty kick. Army managed two shots in the closing minutes, but one missed the net and the other was turned aside by junior goalkeeper Alex Sutton, who recorded three saves and played the entire game.
The Leopards have just one regular season game remaining: a revenge match with Lehigh after losing to them 1-0 in the Patriot League Championship in fall 2019.
However, the Mountain Hawks have already been eliminated from playoff contention and Lafayette has already clinched the top seed, taking some excitement out of a usually contentious matchup.
“The rivalry is important to me and everyone, but we try to pride ourselves on beating everybody,” Bohn said. “But ultimately my goal, and our players’ goal, is to win a championship. And that process really officially starts next Tuesday.”
Lafayette has clinched the number one seed in the postseason and will host either Holy Cross or Colgate in the Patriot League Semifinals on Tuesday.
But first, the Leopards return to the pitch tonight for a home matchup with rival Lehigh. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.