Sophomore centerback Patrick Lowndes celebrated his 20th birthday Saturday with a 2-1 comeback victory over the Norwich University Cadets.
The crowd greeted Lowndes with “Happy Birthday to You” song before the match, and he paid them back by leading the defense in a commanding performance.
He said the energetic supporters at Rotch Field pumped up the team and increased their intensity.
“It’s always great when you have a big crowd,” said Lowndes, a journalism major. “It felt really good, and I was amped for the game.”
After a miscommunication led to a Norwich goal 32 minutes in, the defense executed multiple stops to prevent the Cadets from scoring for the rest of the game.
“It was just a huge test that meant a lot to the four guys I’ve got back there,” said freshman goalie Carter Bowers. “They all played fantastic today, and I really can’t ask much more out of them.”
The Lions, who have won five of their last six contests to move to a 7-7 record, executed strong defensive play against the conference’s top-scoring offense, which had entered the match scoring nearly three goals per game.
“Besides the one time they scored, I felt we didn’t have many breakdowns today,” Lowndes said.
Head coach Jared Scarpaci credited his defensive players for the team’s recent success, which moved them up to sixth in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference standings.
“We’ve finally got the four [defensive] guys in the right positions,” said Scarpaci. “They’re just playing together and reading the game well. I think [our defense] has a lot to do with the success of wins.”
The Lions roared back in the second half with a strike from junior Jonny Havens into the bottom right corner of the net, lighting a fire under the entire team.
“We really fed off the energy of the goal,” said senior forward Jacob Lawrence. “Once we got the goal, we were able to play a little better, settle down, and really dictate the tempo of the game.”
With the score tied at one at the end of the second half, senior defender Bill McHugh made a diving steal and passed the ball up the pitch, eventually leading to a Lawrence goal into the bottom left corner of the net.
Scarpaci praised his team, stating that they looked like a team, not just a group of friends playing soccer.
“I think a lot of the guys have just started to gel,” said Scarpaci. “They’re now in shape, and they’re starting to believe in themselves.”
Bowers agreed with his coach, highlighting the value of practice and hard work.
“I think the intensity in practice has just been there,” said Bowers. “At the beginning, it was just us getting used to each other as players and as a team. I don’t think this is jinxing it, but I think we’re definitely preparing ourselves to play our best soccer.”
Coach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.