For the second straight year, the AU men’s soccer team has taken home the Patriot League regular-season title. Now, the Eagles have their sights set on a bigger crown.
Charlie Hunter’s 47th-minute goal proved to be the difference in AU’s 1-0 road victory over Lehigh Oct. 27 and secured the top seed for the Eagles in the Patriot League Tournament starting Nov. 9.
The tournament will be hosted at Reeves Field, where the Eagles are 6-1 on the season. AU’s only loss on its home turf came to George Mason in the D.C. College Cup Championship.
The Eagles were in the same position a year ago, when they finished first in the conference with a 5-2 record. But after defeating Navy in penalty kicks, Colgate ended AU’s season, 2-0, in the conference championship match.
AU has lost in the Patriot League Championship in each of the past three seasons, but the Eagles are hoping this is the year they break through.
Following a scoreless first half in Bethlehem, Pa., AU’s Colin Seigfreid dribbled down the far side and found Charlie Hunter, who sent a shot past Lehigh goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent for the game’s only goal.
The assist was Seigfreid’s seventh, which leads the conference. Hunter now has two game-winning goals this season, as his 85th-minute score led the Eagles past Longwood in non-conference action Oct. 17.
Hunter’s goal was all AU goalkeeper Billy Knutsen needed, as the junior was on his game all match. Knutsen recorded a career-high 10 saves, and was named the BRINE Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week for the third consecutive week. Knutsen ranks second in the conference in saves, save percentage and goals against average.
The highlight of Knutsen’s strong play was denying Lehigh’s Brian Suchoski twice to keep the Mountain Hawks off the board. Knutsen made a diving stop on Suchoski’s shot just before halftime, and then saved another attempt in the 86th minute.
With first place secured, the Eagles will wrap up the regular season when they host Holy Cross Nov. 3. The Crusaders were the last team to hand AU a regular-season loss, when they defeated the Eagles last November in Worcester, Mass.
The Eagles will be looking to pick up a victory against the Crusaders this time around and head into the tournament on a high note. Meanwhile, Holy Cross will be looking to secure one of the three available tournament spots that will be up for grabs on the final weekend of regular-season play.