BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s soccer team kicked off preseason practice on Sunday in preparation for the 2012 season. The Mountain Hawks began with conditioning before hitting the Ulrich Sports Complex pitch for the first time on Monday. Lehigh welcomes in 10 freshmen to a squad that finished 8-4-6 last season and advanced to its third straight Patriot League Tournament. The Mountain Hawks open the regular season at home on Saturday, Aug. 25 vs. Hofstra.
“This is the best three months of my year,” said head coach Dean Koski. “The weather’s been great. The guys came back in great shape. I couldn’t be happier to be out here.”
The Mountain Hawks lose eight seniors, but return All-League honoree Cameron Omsberg and Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year Ciaran Nugent. Lehigh’s defense stole the show in 2011, posting the nation’s third best goals against average (0.41).
“It’s great to be back. We’re out on the game field, which is nice for the second day,” said Nugent. “The spring season went really well. We graduated a lot, but the returning upperclassmen have really stepped it up. We’re seeing great leadership from them.
“It’s very exciting, especially coming into the fall because there are a lot of guys competing for spots. It’s pretty much up for grabs between everyone out there. Everyone’s competing and pushing each other.”
Omsberg is a second-year captain who, along with fellow seniors Taylor Sulmonetti and Matt Weaver, will bear significant leadership responsibility.
“The goals are definitely to acclimate the freshmen right away and get them integrated into the team,” said Omsberg. “Build relationships and help them understand our style of play. We had a great spring season, so we need to help them understand what we did that made us successful and build off that with this specific group.”
Koski echoed those sentiments.
“The most important thing is camaraderie,” he said. “The guys certainly spent a lot of time with each other last spring. We have a big freshman class who has entered in. Right now, our camaraderie is better after two days than it’s typically been after two weeks.”
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