Men’s soccer clinches PL tournament berth

Stephen Olick-Sutphen, Senior Writer

The men’s soccer team clinched a place in the Patriot League tournament with back-to back road draws against Lafayette and Lehigh. The Bison tied Lafayette 0-0 on Nov. 2 and then went the distance again in a 1-1 draw on Nov. 6 against Lehigh. The Bison will be the 6th seed in the conference tournament and will travel to third-seeded Navy for the opening round on Saturday. 

The Bison men’s soccer team first traveled to Easton, Pa.  to take on Lafayette in their second to last Patriot League game. The first half of the game was characterized by good goalkeeping and a plethora of scoring chances from numerous Bison players. In the opening 10 minutes, Luke Smith ’23 made a key save to deny Lafayette and keep the game level at 0-0. The Bison responded with one of their best opportunities when Patrick O’Hara ’22 almost scored in the 21st minute, but the Lafayette goalie was able to stop his shot. O’Hara had another great look when he almost scored off a rebound shot from Eddie Perez-Pelaez ’23 in the 28th minute. Trevor Wiggins ’21 came up big for the Bison when he headed a Leopard goal-scoring chance away at the goal line late in the first half, preserving a scoreless first half for both teams.

The start of the second half was evenly played, with neither team being able to register a shot on goal until Smith denied Lafayette from taking the lead about midway through the period. In the second half, the Bison’s best chance came in the 75th minute when Nick King ’20 took a hard shot on goal, but Lafayette’s goalkeeper came up with the save.

“These last couple of weeks of the season our backline has really solidified and as a team, we are all on the same page about our defensive game plan,” O’Hara said. “We have some of the best center backs in the league in Quinn and Trevor and they’ve both been playing really well and our midfield has been doing a great job as well limiting opponents’ chances so we’ve been successful.”

In overtime, the teams went back and forth to try to find a game winner, with neither team coming out on top. This was the Bison’s second consecutive tie in conference play and they currently sit tied for fifth in conference play with their last game against Lehigh.

“We played really well against Lafayette, we were on the front foot right from kick-off and put them under a lot of pressure for the whole first half,” O’Hara said. “They have a strong defense and we were a bit unlucky not to score, but we are going to need the same effort and more to beat Lehigh. We know we can shut teams down and hold them scoreless and we know we can create the chances, but we need to finish one of them.”

The Bison next traveled to Bethlehem, PA. to take on Lehigh in a game where the Bison needed at least a point to clinch a playoff berth. They got the result they needed in a 1-1 draw that saw them sneak into the tournament as the sixth seed. 

The Bison opened the scoring in the 6th minute of the game when Bernie Wright ’20 found a loose ball in the box and headed the ball over the Lehigh keeper into the back of the net. The Orange and Blue stood strong for the rest of the half against constant Lehigh pressure that forced three first half saves from Smith. 

In the second half, Lehigh was finally able to break the Bison defense down with a 67th-minute goal that knotted the score at one. The score would remain this way for the rest of the game as neither team was able to find the winner. Thanks to a loss by American at the hands of Loyola, the Bison were able to finish a single point ahead of the Eagles and earn their spot in the Patriot League Tournament. 

The Bison will take on third-seeded Navy in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday (time TBD). The Orange and Blue will look to avenge their 2-0 loss to Navy from earlier their season. 

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