Men’s soccer postseason ends after loss to Lafayette in Patriot League quarterfinals

Eagles’ playoff run comes up short in penalty shootout

Men’s soccer postseason ends after loss to Lafayette in Patriot League quarterfinals
Eagles fought hard to tie the game 2-2, with senior forward Robbie Matei assisting in one goal and scoring another

American University men’s soccer (6-5-5) lost in penalty kicks against the Lafayette College Leopards (9-5-6) in the Patriot League quarterfinals on Nov. 4. The Eagles entered the playoffs as the #6 seed, and the #3-seeded Leopards hosted the match.

Despite the Eagles having a strong offensive start, Lafayette managed to kick the first shots on goal of the game, though they were saved by sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Tibbetts. The Eagles’ constant pressure finally paid off after 29 minutes of back and forth, when senior forward Robbie Matei crossed the ball to senior defender Nevin Baer, who slammed the ball into the back of the net. The sole shot by the Eagles in the first half paid off, putting them up 1-0 going into halftime.

The start of the second half was not so favorable for the Eagles. Two minutes into the half senior midfielder Evan Schweickert received a yellow card for taking down a Lafayette player from behind and then kicking the ball at the referee in frustration when the foul was called. 

Three minutes later on a breakaway play, Lafayette forward Hale Lombard headed the ball and Tibbetts dove to save the shot, but Tibbetts could not recover from the dive fast enough to stop midfielder Carter Houlihan’s shot, which hit the left goal post and went into the goal, tying the game 1-1. 

Three minutes after the Leopards’ goal, Schweickert received another foul for tripping a Lafayette player and then pushing him back down as he got back up, resulting in a red card and Schweickert’s removal from the match. Barely 15 minutes into the second half, the Eagles conceded and were left to play with 10 players against the Leopards’ 11 for the remainder of the match.

Despite being down a man, the Eagles were still able to put offensive pressure on the Leopards. In the 60th minute, Matei, who assisted in American’s first goal, dribbled past two defensive players and found himself face-to-face with Leopards goalkeeper Griffin Huff. Matei chipped the ball past Huff’s right side, just out of reach, and scored a goal, bringing the Eagles up 2-1.

Lafayette responded 15 minutes later, when defender Nicholas Liebich headed a corner kick taken by defender Connor Dawson towards forward Roy Biegon, who headed the ball again, this time into the back of the net. With just 15 minutes left to play in regular time, the score was tied at 2-2.

Ninety minutes of play concluded with the score at 2-2, with the first 10-minute period of overtime ending in no successful chances by either team. In the second period of overtime, American was charged with a handball in the box with three minutes left to play, giving Lafayette a penalty kick. The kick, taken by Lombard, was aimed at the bottom right corner of the goal, but Tibbetts dove to save the ball, keeping the score tied.

After both periods of overtime remained scoreless, thanks to Lafayette’s several shots saved by Tibbetts and no shots taken by the Eagles offense, the tied game went into penalty kicks to determine a winner. 

For penalty kicks, the Eagles swapped out Tibbetts for senior goalkeeper Lorenzo Gordon. Dawson took the first penalty kick for the Leopards and took a quick, low shot to the bottom right of the goal. Gordon anticipated incorrectly and dove to the left, putting Lafayette up 1-0. Matei took American’s first shot and also kicked a low shot to the bottom right of the goal, which was saved by Huff and the Leopards remained 1-0. 

Forward David Mizrahi took the Leopards’ second shot, which was saved by Gordon keeping the score in penalties 1-0. Next up was junior defender Taku Takahashi for the Eagles, who took a left-footed shot against Huff but barely missed the goal, grazing the right post, and the score stayed 1-0 Lafayette. 

Lombard, who had had his penalty blocked by Tibbetts just minutes earlier, fired a slow shot right down the middle but Gordon dove to the right, not leaving enough time to recover and save the ball, and the Leopards widened their lead 2-0. 

Junior forward Sam Hershey took the next shot for American, punching it into the top right corner of the goal, just out of Huff’s reach, closing the gap 2-1. Next up for the Leopards was midfielder Beaux Lizewski, who took a powerful left-footed kick towards the middle of the goal, but it hit the crossbar and bounced out of the goal, leaving the score at 2-1. 

American had one more chance to stay in the shootout. If sophomore midfielder Tim Schliemann made the next shot, the Eagles would tie the score and make a win possible. Schliemann’s kick went too high and went over the top of the goal, leaving the score 2-1. The Eagles’ only hope was for Lafayette to miss their next shot, but forward Lawrence Aydlett made his shot in the bottom right corner of the goal, just out of Gordon’s reach, and the Leopards won the penalty shootout 3-1.

Lafayette advanced to the semifinals of the Patriot League Championship, while American’s postseason run was cut short.  

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Luna Jinks.

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