Saturday night was a painful reminder of one thing: I really hate losing. This past
weekend, I traveled with my Lehigh Women’s Soccer team to play our second Patriot League game versus Colgate University. As a senior on the team, I could not ask for a more exciting and positive beginning to our season, as going into this weekend we held an undefeated record of 7-0-1. Not only were we unbeaten, but also held the program’s all-time record for consecutive shutouts. Going into this weekend, there was clearly much to be proud of yet much to still play for. The Patriot League consists of ten schools. With one game down resulting in a win against Holy Cross the weekend before, Colgate marked an early yet very important league game. It was our goal to get 3 points for a win in hopes to align ourselves at a chance to make the postseason playoffs.
Personally, preparation is the most important part of game day. How I approach the game has a huge impact on how I feel for the first whistle blow of the ninety minute match. First thing is first: sleep!
The night before I aim to get at least nine hours of sleep. Last Friday night I went to bed around 11 PM and woke up at 9 AM. After my beauty rest, a big tasty breakfast is the best way for me to fuel up for the big day. This Saturday I went with a few of my teammates to Blue Sky cafe on W 4th St in Bethlehem. They have a great variety of hearty breakfasts which are a fantastic way to start any one’s day, especially one involving a competitive soccer game. I highly recommend their Special Scramble with crunchy veggies, eggs and goat cheese. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my Saturday. After this individual preparation, I then begin to ponder what the coaching staff has in mind for the entire team.
This season we host four of our league games at home, which unfortunately means we are on the road for the other five. In order to ensure our readiness for a 7pm start time, our team departed Lehigh’s campus at 11:45 AM on brown and white Mountain Hawk detailed coach bus. Colgate is located in Hamilton, New York which is about a three and a half hour drive from Bethlehem. For the first few hours of the trip, each player spent their time on the bus differently by either completing homework, napping, or watching the film “Miracle”, which was being played on the multiple television screens on the bus. My personal “go to” is a nap which makes the travel time fly by.
One of my favorite aspects of traveling to different areas games is exploring different restaurants. At around 2 PM, our bus made a stop at a quaint family-run Italian restaurant in Binghamton, New York called the Cortese Restaurant. Along with quick and friendly service, the food tasted as if I had crashed an Italian family’s Sunday dinner. Nothing says “pre-game meal” like chicken parmesan with a side of smooth mashed
potatoes and roasted veggies seasoned in rosemary and garlic. After that meal, the next stop was Colgate. Reloading the bus, the next hour and half has a much different tone as players attempt to mentally prepare for the match. This gave time to go over the scouting report on the opposing team while listening to favorite pump up tunes on personal playlists. Next thing we knew, our bus had pulled up to the Colgate locker rooms and it was go-time.
Focused faces were mixed with the excitement our favorite jams in our locker room booming in the background. This forty five minute period is used to suit up in our brown and white uniforms and generate a collective hype amongst the 24 players. Our head coach Eric Lambinus and assistant Lauren Calabrese came in right before the warm up to give last minute tactics and motivational words. From here, it’s all soccer from our warm up to the tap off.
The game itself was very fast paced and intense. I play center midfield, so much of my position is involved in most of the plays, causing me to feel as if I was bouncing around all game. We came out a tad nervous, resulting in hesitancy and an early Colgate goal only ten minutes into the first half, which sadly ended our 832 minute shutout streak. From here, the team stepped up the level of play to match Colgate’s for the rest of the first half, which resulted in numerous opportunities. Matching Colgate’s intensity, our Junior center back, Alyssa Riporti, scored off of a corner just ten minutes after Colgate had scored. With many more back and forth opportunities throughout the first 45 minutes, the score remained tied 1-1 at half time.
During halftime, we talked about staying composed and relaxed by trying to control the game by using our strengths: possession and relentless defense. As the second half whistle blew, every Lehigh player on the field hustled, which payed off in the 86th minute when freshman Sidonie Wernecker buried a shot behind Colgate’s goalie from a pass from Senior Tori Pantaleo. The entire Lehigh bench went wild while the players on the field celebrated the goal with many high-fives and encouraging words. However, the victory had not been ours just yet. Colgate quickly scored again 19 seconds later just before the final whistle resulting in a score of 2-2 and bringing us into over time. Almost as quickly as you can snap your finger, our undefeated season was over. One minute into the sudden-death overtime, Colgate finished the ball in the back right corner of our net, heartbreakingly ending the game and resulting in our first loss. As a competitive person, there’s no worse feeling than walking off the field defeated as your opponent pours onto the field jumping, cheering and hugging each other for their triumph.
Walking away, there were mixed emotions of anger, disappointment, and sadness. Despite these negative feelings, we remained hungry to win the rest of the games this season. This loss leads us to a crossroad: to either settle or to fire back by working even harder in our next league game against Navy. This Wednesday night’s game vs. Navy is huge for our season. This is where we step up as a team and show that the Colgate result is a true outlier in our season. We are certainly not defined by this one loss. If anything, this adversity will only make us better. I can’t wait to see Colgate again in the playoffs and get a much different result.
Want to see the lady Mountain Hawks bounce back? Check out our game on Wednesday night at 7pm as we return to Ulrich Stadium on Lehigh’s Goodman Campus. The rest of our schedule can also be found online on Lehigh Sports, or follow live updates from @LehighWSoccer on Twitter!