Northwestern Press

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PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF LEHIGH UNIVERSITYFreshman Sabrina Mertz scored the first goal of the Mountain Hawks’ season and leads the team in goal scoring. PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF LEHIGH UNIVERSITYFreshman Sabrina Mertz scored the first goal of the Mountain Hawks’ season and leads the team in goal scoring.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF LEHIGH UNIVERSITY Northwestern Lehigh graduate Sabrina Mertz has adjusted to a new position and thrived early in her college soccer career. PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF LEHIGH UNIVERSITY Northwestern Lehigh graduate Sabrina Mertz has adjusted to a new position and thrived early in her college soccer career.

Mertz leads Lehigh teams in goals

Thursday, September 24, 2015 by Todd Kress tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

Sabrina Mertz may just be a freshman at Lehigh, but she’s already making plenty of noise for the Mountain Hawks’ soccer team.

Just last week, two news stories on the womens soccer team’s homepage featured photos of Mertz in Lehigh’s famous brown and white jerseys. She has six goals (team-high) and two assists in the first eight games for 14 points. And it was exactly 10 days ago that she was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week.

While that alone is impressive enough, Mertz accomplished those feats while adjusting to playing forward. She played in the midfield for much of her time at Northwestern under head coach Kelly Bleam. Nonetheless, the switch has seemed to have a rewarding investment.

“It’s a big adjustment,” Mertz said. “It’s a different position in how you play and how you see the field. There are a lot of people that are there to help me and give me advice—our coaches, the older girls, and the people that are in that same position.”

Mertz’s six goals not only leads Lehigh (4-2-2 overall, 0-0-1 in Patriot League), but it’s the top mark in the Patriot League. Four others are tied with five goals apiece.

The success she is having on the field is undeniable, but during the preseason Mertz wasn’t exactly sure what role she would play. The Mountain Hawks returned a solid core of players from last year. But Mertz proved early on she was up to the challenge.

“It was more up in the air,” Mertz said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. I just knew every practice I would have to come out hard because I knew the competition was going to be a lot higher.

“I was lucky that they needed the personnel here and there. I think that was a big part of it. There are so many good people on our team. Anyone can make big plays at any time. Our saying is ’26 deep.’ Anyone can come on the field and make a huge impact.”

In fact, it only took Mertz a matter of minutes to maker her presence known in live game action. In her first game, Mertz scored two goals in the Mountain Hawks’ 7-0 shut out over Mount St. Mary’s. Her first tally was Lehigh’s first of the season, coming in the 18th minute from the left side of the net.

“Being able to score that first goal, and having all my teammates get excited too, I think that just made me more excited as well,” Mertz said. “It was a very cool experience.”

Nearly three weeks later, Mertz dazzled once again with two more goals against a tough Saint Joseph’s squad, resulting in a 3-2 win prior to their Patriot League slate beginning.

“They are a very good team,” Mertz said. “They came in 4-1, so we knew that was a big game. It was our last game before Patriot League starts. We really wanted to get a win to give us confidence going into next week.”

Lehigh and Holy Cross played to a 0-0 tie in their Patriot League opener on Saturday. They’ll host Colgate next on Saturday at Urlich Sports Complex at 7 p.m.