Posted: August 31, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Adam Gazda leaped into the air and pumped his fist, knowing he had just won the game for the Mountain Hawks. His goal came with just 2:11 remaining after Lehigh and Stony Brook had battled for more than 87 scoreless minutes on Sunday at the Ulrich Sports Complex. After all the celebrating had ended, Lehigh ran out the clock for the 1-0 victory, moving its record to 2-0-0 on the season.
Gazda was waiting to pounce when Jim Taranto deflected the ball to him at the top of the box. The senior captain stepped up and blasted a shot to the upper left-hand corner, and the Seawolves keeper had no chance, even with his 6-foot-7 frame.
“He was in the right place at the right time, and it was a great finish,” Lehigh head coach Dean Koski said. “That’s exactly what you want from your captain and one of your premier players.”
Gazda had been causing havoc all day for the Mountain Hawks, racking up four shots on the day. Although the goal was his only opportunity on net, his aggressiveness kept the pressure on Stony Brook throughout.
Jim Taranto fired three shots on goal for Lehigh, including two that nearly broke the deadlock. On two separate occasions, Taranto muscled his way into the box and got shots on goal, only to be denied by the Stony Brook goalie. Adam Welch and Alex Weisberger also fired two shots on goal in the game.
The first half was all about defenses, as neither team could notch more than one shot on goal in the period. The quick turnaround for both teams, after each played on Friday night, was a big reason for the lack of offense, Koski said.
“We were pretty tired from Friday night,” Koski said. “We didn’t have the same energy, and being disrupted defensively, we never really settled in.”
The Mountain Hawks woke up in the second half on the offensive end, constantly moving the ball into the Stony Brook end. They managed to put eight shots on goal in the period, including the game winner by Gazda.
Koski said the ability to rest his stars at crucial points in the game was the difference for his team.
“The turning point was the guys coming off the bench and giving us a lift,” Koski said. “That was huge. When you have the depth we do, it just encourages us to use the bench.”
Koski saw Gazda struggling a little late in the second half, and he was able to give his captain a rest to prepare for the final push. He even sat down preseason Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Kyle Evans in the final minutes to prepare him for a potential overtime period.
Instead, Evans was sitting on the bench as Gazda ensured that there would be no extra soccer played on Sunday.
Lehigh returns to action when it travels to Princeton to take on the Tigers on Friday, September 5 at 7 p.m.