Patriot League Men's Soccer Championship Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG Lafayette senior Nick Leigh
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG
Lafayette senior Nick Leigh
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG

Nov. 11, 2009

Center Valley, Pa.--The 2009 Patriot League Men's Championship will begin Friday evening in Lewisburg, Pa. Colgate, the winner of the 2007 and 2008 tournaments, did not qualify, meaning a new champion will be crowned on Sunday in Lewisburg.

 

Patriot League Men's Soccer Championship Release Get Acrobat Reader

2009 Patriot League Men’s Soccer Tournament

No. 4 Lafayette at No. 1 Bucknell, Friday, 5 p.m.
     
Bucknell and Lafayette will meet in the Patriot League Tournament for just the third time. The only other semifinal match between the two squads was in the very first Patriot League Tournament. In 1990, the fourth-seeded Leopards upset the top-seeded Bison in Lewisburg to advance to the Patriot League title game. The only other tournament meeting between the Bison and the Leopards occurred in the 2006 Patriot League Championship, when Bucknell edged the Leopards in penalty kicks, giving the Bison their only title to date.
    
Bucknell will be hosting the tournament for the third time in program history. The Bison are 0-2 in their only two previous home tournament games. The Bison will be making their eighth tournament appearance overall.
    
Lafayette will be competing in its League-best 17th Patriot League Tournament. The Leopards have qualified for the tournament a League-best eight consecutive years. Lafayette has reached the championship round three out of the last four years, winning in 2005.
    
Bucknell won the regular season match between the two schools, defeating Lafayette by a 1-0 margin in Lewisburg. Conor O’Brien paces the Bison attack. He leads the Patriot League in goals (10), assists (8) and points (28).
    
Looking to slow O’Brien down will be the Lafayette defense, which is led by Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year Philip Nelson. The senior leads the Patriot League in shutouts (9) and goals-against-average (0.69).


No. 3 American vs. No. 2 Lehigh, Friday, 8 p.m.
    
American and Lehigh will square off in the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth time since 2001. It will be the third semifinal meeting between the two teams. In the first meeting, American topped the Mountain Hawks in overtime in 2001. Lehigh advanced past the Eagles on penalty kicks in the following season. The teams also met in the 2004 title game, in which American recorded an overtime victory.
    
Since making its first Patriot League Tournament appearance in 2001, American has won two titles, while Lehigh won its only crown in 2000. American is in its sixth Patriot League Tournament, while Lehigh has now qualified 12 times.
    
American and Lehigh tied in their only previous meeting this season, a 0-0 draw on Oct. 24. That was the last game Lehigh did not win. The Mountain Hawks have not lost since a 2-1 defeat to Navy on Oct. 10. The Mountain Hawks have gotten stellar play defensively, led by Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Adam Welch. Welch helped the Lehigh defense limit its foes to just six goals during the seven-game Patriot League season. Welch and the Mountain Hawks allowed just 66 shots and 29 shots-on-goal during League play. Welch also leads Lehigh with 15 points (five goals, five assists).
    
American started Patriot League play with a bang, winning its first four games and going unbeaten through its first five contests. The Eagles struggled to close out the season, however, dropping their final three games, including two Patriot League matches. The Eagles had five student-athletes named to the All-Patriot League Team, including senior defender Cooper Bryant. He anchored an Eagles’ defense that allowed just five goals during Patriot League play.

Patriot League Championship, Sunday, 1 p.m.
     
Bucknell lost just twice in Patriot League play, but the Bison’s losses were to potential championship foes Lehigh and American. Lafayette, which plays Bucknell for the right to advance to the championship, was 1-1 against the same two teams. The Leopards defeated Lehigh but lost to American in double-overtime.

Patriot League Notebook

Patriot League Tournament Lands In Lewisburg
A Bucknell loss to Lehigh in double-overtime on Friday meant that American could secure the top seed and home field advantage in the Patriot League Tournament with a home victory against Colgate. Instead, the Raiders recorded just their third road win of the season, a 1-0 win over the Eagles in Washington, D.C. As a result, Bucknell will be the top seed and host the Patriot League Tournament for the third time in program history. The Bison will look to reverse a current trend, as they have yet to win a Patriot League Tournament game on their home field. 

A Fight To The Finish
Lehigh’s win on Friday meant that three of the Patriot League Tournament’s four berths had been secured before Saturday’s games even began. The final position was less clear, however. Colgate, Holy Cross and Lafayette all won on Saturday, putting them into a three-way tie for fourth place with 12 points. Lafayette emerged from the three-way tie on the strength of its 1-0 win over Lehigh earlier this season. All three of the tied teams went 1-1 against the other teams in the tie. Because a tie still existed, a comparison of records was conducted for each team starting with the highest seed not involved in the tie. All three teams were defeated by Bucknell, but Lafayette was the only one of the tied teams to beat Lehigh. Because ties are broken in rank order, starting with the highest seed, the Leopards' win over the second-place Mountain Hawks, which had emerged from a two-way tie with American for second place, separated Lafayette from Colgate and Holy Cross. 

A New Champion Will Be Crowned
Despite its win over American, defending champion Colgate was eliminated from Patriot League Tournament contention, thanks to Holy Cross’ win over Army. Had the Black Knights beaten the Crusaders, Colgate would have been in a tie with Lafayette for the final tournament position, which Colgate would have won on the strength of its win over the Leopards earlier this season. Instead, the Raiders wound up in a three-way tie with Holy Cross and Lafayette, from which Lafayette emerged as the fourth seed. 

2009 Patriot League Tournament
The 2009 Patriot League Tournament will take place Friday and Sunday, November 13 and 15 at Emmitt Field in Lewisburg, Pa., home of top-seeded Bucknell.  The Bison will meet fourth-seeded Lafayette at 5 p.m. on Friday, followed by an 8 p.m. match-up between second-seeded Lehigh and third-seeded American. The two winners will square off the Patriot League Championship on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the champion receiving the Patriot League’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. 

Past Champions
This year’s No. 4 team, Lafayette, has won a League-best six Patriot League Championships. Next in line is Colgate with four titles. The Raiders have won each of the past two championships. Army has three titles, while the only other school with multiple crowns is American with two. Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lehigh and former League-member Fordham each have one.

2008 Patriot League Championship Recap
Top-seeded Colgate claimed its second consecutive Patriot League Tournament, defeating No. 3 Holy Cross in the title game. After picking up a 2-0 win over No. 4 Lafayette, the Raiders claimed a 2-1 victory over the Crusaders in the championship tilt. Holy Cross had advanced to the final after defeating American on penalty kicks. Alex Weekes scored a tournament-record two goals against the Crusaders, earning him Patriot League Tournament MVP honors.

Keep Track Of The Patriot League Through Social Media
In addition to visiting www.patriotleague.org, League fans and followers have plenty of new ways to stay updated and involved during the 2009 Patriot League Tournament. The Patriot League has accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and has now started a blog to give more information on the action on the field. All three accounts are accessible through the multimedia link at the right-hand sidebar on the front page of www.patriotleague.org.