Posted: October 14, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md.. – Nothing was going the Mountain Hawks way on Tuesday night against the Terrapins. They trailed No. 6 Maryland significantly in shots (24-7), shots on goal (7-1) and corner kicks (15-3). They were called for eight more fouls (14-6) than their ACC counterparts and were issued four yellow cards. They even played the final 25:19 of regulation plus overtime down a man after the referee issued a red card to Dan Odenwelder.
But the one category the Terrapins could not claim for the first 96 minutes was the only one that mattered: the score. Unfortunately for the Mountain Hawks, Casey Townsend found space in the middle of the box in the 97th minute and fired a blast to the left side for the game-winning goal for Maryland.
The 2-1 overtime defeat drops the Mountain Hawks to 5-4-3 (1-0-2), while Maryland improves to 10-3-0.
“We take away from this one the fact that we can match up defensively with a very good attacking team,” head coach Dean Koski said. “We certainly competed in our final third better than we have all season.”
Patrick Cucci’s 53rd-minute goal came when fans least expected it in the second half. With Maryland keeper Zac MacMath holding the ball, the Lehigh attack looked to be for naught at the moment, but MacMath bobbled the ball and Cucci was there to finish, giving Lehigh its first lead of the game.
Any momentum Lehigh had after the Cucci goal was quickly taken away when Odenwelder crashed into Maryland’s Omar Gonzalez. Gonzalez went down hard and the referee quickly pulled out the red card, forcing the Mountain Hawks to play with 10 men for the remainder of the contest.
“They showed some character tonight,” Koski said. “Playing with 10 men was hard for them, but they play for one another and that’s really important.”
Still, the Mountain Hawks could taste their second upset of a top 25 team in the last eight days – after Lehigh upended No. 19 Penn in front of the home fans at the Ulrich Sports Complex on October 7. However, the Terrapins had different plans for this one, and they took advantage of having the extra man advantage.
The Maryland attack poured shots on goalkeeper Jonathan Nydell, and eventually the persistence paid off. Gonzalez wound up and fired a shot from 35 yards out that deflected off a Lehigh defender and skidded past
Nydell overcame a vaunted Maryland attack that has averaged 2.25 goals per game heading into the contest to hold on to the draw until the overtime strike ended the game.
The highlight of Nydell’s day came in the 74th minute, when Jeremy Hall attempted a penalty kick for the Terrapins. The shot was fired hard to Nydell’s right, but he dove and deflected the ball over the crossbar to preserve the 1-0 lead at the time.
“He was great today,” Koski said of his keeper. “He was early to balls, he made great decisions and he took great angles. It was the best game of his career.”
More importantly, Nydell had to overcome the most vocal and enthusiastic crowd the Mountain Hawks have faced on the road this season.
The Maryland students planted themselves directly behind Nydell in the Lehigh goal, berating the sophomore keeper with chants throughout the contest. When Nydell switched goals to start the second half, the Maryland students followed him and continued their assault from the opposite end.
“If you can deal with those fans, you can deal with anything in the Patriot League,” Koski said.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Saturday, when they take on American at the Ulrich Sports Complex at 7 p.m.