BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team opened the 2010 season with a resounding 3-0 victory over Rutgers at the Ulrich Sports Complex on Wednesday night. Junior Joe Puleo scored the Mountain Hawks’ first two goals and freshman James Meyerkord added a third in his collegiate debut.
The Brown and White held a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal, forcing Rutgers’ keeper Kevin McMullen into four saves. Lehigh senior keeper Jonathan Nydell stopped one shot and received some help from junior Jordie Ciuffetelli to stop another.
"The defense did a great job of staying organized, communicating and stepping to the ball," Lehigh head coach Dean Koski said. "We didn’t provide them with many opportunities and I really liked the way Dan Odenwelder stagnated the midfield in front of the defense."
The Mountain Hawks survived a pair of early scoring chances for Rutgers as Robbie McLarney was twice denied by the post, once on a shot and the other off a deflected cross. Ciuffetelli further frustrated the Scarlet Knights when he cleared a shot off the goalline. Despite the pressure, the Brown and White never broke and were able to respond with a goal midway through the first half when Puleo latched onto a feed from junior Kevin Strunk and fired a laser into the top right corner of the net.
"Joe has worked hard to find his playing style," Koski explained. "But he’s comfortable with who he is as a scrappy, hard-working forward."
Puleo was on target again in the 53rd minute when he poked home a loose ball in front of the net off a corner kick. Strunk was credited with his second assist as he tapped the ball towards Puleo, who made no mistake with the keeper out of position.
The Mountain Hawks tacked on a third, again off a corner kick in the 73rd minute. In a similar fashion to the second goal, Meyerkord took a feed from junior Ayo Olasupo and buried it past McMullen to add more insurance to the scoreline.
"This is an important win for us against a really good team from the Big East," Koski admitted. "It’s a good start, but we have to realize that it’s only one game."
With the victory, the Mountain Hawks extended their unbeaten streak to seven games dating back to last season. The win was also the 499th in program history.
Lehigh will go for win No. 500 on Saturday against Fordham at the Ulrich Sports Complex at 7 p.m. Live stats will be available on Lehighsports.com.