BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh women’s soccer team recently wrapped up a strong spring campaign with its eyes set on next fall. A young Mountain Hawks’ squad played neck-and-neck with strong competition, picking up some big victories, including a shutout of St. John’s out of the Big East. Lehigh is looking to build off a 2011 season which saw it tie eventual Patriot League Champion Army and tie runner-up Navy, without giving up a goal to either side.
“We played really good competition and we learned a lot about ourselves as a team,” said head coach Eric Lambinus. “We’re a young team - we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores - and have graduated a number of players over the last two years. So it was good to really get to know the team, their strengths and weaknesses, and what we need to work on to improve.”
The Mountain Hawks played at Rider and at home vs. St. John’s, Temple, Delaware and a Lehigh Alumni Team.
“Our alumni team was fit, strong and they played really good soccer. It was actually one of our most competitive games,” said Lambinus. “We got five really good games. We were happy to see the alumni do so well. It was good for us competitively.”
The team also focused heavily on strength and conditioning, where they saw great success.
“Our underclassmen are new to the process, but we saw huge strides” said Lambinus. “Murphee [Greeley] broke the pro agility all-time record at Lehigh and we saw huge strides in our scores across the board.”
One big question heading into the 2012 season will be the defense as Lehigh graduated three starting defenders. But Lambinus saw a lot to build upon from some younger players.
“We had a lot of young girls playing those positions who never played back there,” he said. “We went through big stretches - including the entire St. John’s game - without giving up a goal. We went two and a half games without giving up a goal, which is good with a young back line. We’re trying to figure things out offensively; we still have some work to do, but I think we’re doing better. We scored some big goals, but we need to score more.”
The returnees should mesh with seven incoming freshmen to form a strong team in 2012, with hopes of advancing back to the Patriot League Tournament and winning its second championship in the past three seasons.
“We have a lot of good freshmen who should make a big impact in positions of need,” said Lambinus. “We think this is a good group and a group in areas of need, which is fortunate considering how early we recruited.
“The two groups (returnees and freshmen) should mesh really well together,” Lambinus continued. “I think we’re going to be competitive in the league; I like the league, it’s very deep. All the teams are going to be good again. There wasn’t a whole lot of graduation in the Patriot League. We’re right there with the goal of making it back to the playoffs and seeing what we can do from there.”