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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
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Men’s soccer falls in first PL game of the season

Samol finds issue with the opportunities the team is producing to score

AU men’s soccer lost to Lehigh 2-1 in their first Patriot League battle of the season on Saturday. This loss continues AU’s winless season, putting them at 0-6-1.

Lehigh got an early lead, scoring a goal in the 15th minute. Lehigh continued to outplay AU during the first half, putting up three shots and limiting AU to only one. Lehigh scored once again in the second half at the 50th minute, giving them a two-goal lead. The Eagles, however, did not go down without a fight.

With 15 minutes left in the game, junior Nicholas Dimitrijevic scored a goal off of an assist from junior Trey Echazarreta. AU continued to fight in the final minutes of the game, with an exciting push in the final seconds that proved to be unsuccessful.

“I know that if we can move the keeper, we can get goals,” said Dimitrijevic. “I felt like [my goal] was a little bit of life that we needed. For the majority of the game, we were flat, me included.”

It was a tough and physical game, with the two teams putting up a combined 29 fouls. Lehigh kicked it up in the second half, committing 10 of their 15 fouls. They received four yellow cards total, compared with AU’s one.

AU’s defense wasn’t as strong this game; they allowed 10 shots and seven corner kicks in addition to the two goals.

“I think the initial focus of the group was to try to make us better defensively, give up less good chances,” said Coach Zach Samol. “I didn’t think we were that great with that today.”

In addition, AU could only muster up four shots total. Samol believes that the team needs to improve at getting chances: “Everyone wants to look at us not scoring goals as a struggle. I think the question is how many chances are we producing.”

“There were not many chances by us, and we had a goal. Based on the number of chances we had, I think a goal is pretty good.”

Goalkeeper Jake Agnew made multiple impressive saves and prevented AU’s deficit from growing larger. Dimitrijevic, to go along with his second-half goal, put up three of AU’s four total shots.

“As a team, we were struggling with creating chances for ourselves,” said Dimitrijevic. “As a forward, I felt like we don’t take many opportunities and don’t try to shoot, so I was just trying to get a shot off and take it off my feet and get something. I was pleased when I hit it clean.”

While AU’s play left a majority of its crowd quiet, there were still some smiling faces on their side of the bleachers. The 1979 team that reached the NCAA Quarterfinals was honored at halftime, allowing the alumni to reconnect for the first time in years. When players from that team had their names called, they ran onto the field just as they did forty years ago.

“It’s special,” said Terry Schrider, a member of the 1979 roster. “We’re all starting to get a little old now, so you never know if it’s going to be the last reunion. It’s always great to come back.”

AU takes the field again on Sept. 27 against Bucknell, when they will try to end their losing streak and give Samol his first win with the team.

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