Decker's late strike lifts Lehigh over Lafayette
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Sophomore Austin Decker broke a scoreless deadlock in the 76th minute to help Lehigh down rival Lafayette, 1-0, before a crowd of 987 at the Ulrich Sports Complex on Saturday night. The victory gave the Brown and White their first Patriot League win of the season and snapped a three-game winless streak vs. the Leopards. Lehigh improves to 4-4-1 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Men's Soccer: PME vs. Lafayette Oct. 2, 2010
“I’m glad we got our first Patriot League win, that points us in the right direction,” Lehigh head coach Dean Koski said. “To have it come against Lafayette made it a little more special. It was a classic Lehigh-Lafayette matchup and I thought we really competed well.”
The Mountain Hawks dominated the first half, outshooting the Leopards by a 7-1 margin, but could not get on the board as Lafayette keeper Andrew Pianko made four stops. Lehigh’s best chance came when freshman James Meyerkord ripped a curling shot just wide of the right post 15 minutes into the match.
Play opened up more in the second half as Lafayette began to apply more pressure in the Lehigh end. Senior Jonathan Nydell held the fort as the Leopards attempted 10 shots, and received a bit of help from junior Kevin Strunk, who cleared a shot off the goalline from Stephen Macurdy.
The Mountain Hawks bent but never broke, and eventually produced the game’s only goal when Meyerkord and Decker struck on the counterattack. Meyerkord played a perfect through-ball, splitting two Lafayette defenders, for Decker to run on to in the attacking zone. The sophomore won the footrace against the Lafayette defender inside the box, before taking a touch to the inside and firing toward the far post. The ball took a deflection en route to the net and spun around the outstretched arms of Pianko for the game-winner.
“It’s hard to rank where this match stands in terms of the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry,” Koski admitted. “There’s so much tradition. It’s nice to come home and get back on track. To get a Patriot league result and a result over Lafayette is great.”
Nydell finished with three saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season. Pianko recorded five stops for Lafayette. Both Meyerkord and Decker totaled three shots for Lehigh, while three Lafayette players recorded two shots in the match.
The win gives Lehigh three points in the Patriot League standings and positions the Mountain Hawks in a tie for third in the league standings. Colgate and American currently top the table with six points, while Lehigh, Lafayette, Navy and Bucknell stand in a four-way tie for third with three points.
The Mountain Hawks return to action next Saturday at Navy at 7 p.m. Lehigh’s next home game will be on Tuesday, October 12 when it welcomes Maryland to the Ulrich Sports Complex at 7 p.m.