Monmouth visited Lafayette’s home turf and the result was to demonstrate that our Leopards will need more work to reach their potential. It was a cold windy uncomfortable evening on field, but the conditions were there for both teams. Monmouth list 13 players on their 2018 roster, six freshman, two sophomores, and five juniors. They fielded 11 of those players, while playing the three 25 minute periods, two 7 v 7 shortened periods, and practiced some shootouts with just those 11.
Lafayette is suffering some mid-spring injuries and soreness, with three of our players not able to play. Given all that, Monmouth demonstrated their offensive prowess. Last season they fell in the MAAC championship game 2-1 to Fairfield, which deprived them of the championship. But it was a season that was marked by a 15-4 record, and a remarkable 82 goal season on 384 shots. Of the eleven players on the field the Monmouth coaching staff have recruited 7 from beyond the shores of the United States. Against Patriot League opponents they beat Bucknell 6-2, and Lehigh 7-0. The other listed opponents is an eclectic one, which included Kent State, William and Mary, Virginia, Indiana and Brown, aside from their MAAC schedule. The point is, this is a good team looking to get back to their MAAC championship.
The Leopards did have their moments, scoring two goals in the regular field portion of the game, but still lacked that offensive spark that will be needed to challenge in an improving Patriot League schedule. Many still seemed uncomfortable in a changing offensive scheme. Passing lanes were unclear and the Monmouth circle defense stymied decent opportunities inside the shooting circle while good second and third shots did not come easily.
There was plenty of substitution, as both goalkeepers were used along with the Leopards field bench. This gives the coaching staff a good look at the progress made of those who did not get much playing time last fall. I am sure the Leopard brain trust will be closely evaluating not only the team as a whole, but individual skill development.
There will be little time for rest, as tomorrow they will travel to Philadelphia for an all day tournament meeting Rider, Virginia and arch rival Lehigh. I am especially interested in the meeting with Lehigh. That contest follows a regular season loss to the Mountain Hawks in overtime 1-0. The loss was the first in over a decade and tomorrow’s contest will be a good marker as to where the two teams are at this stage of the spring.