BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Behind a strong all-around team effort, the Lehigh women’s soccer team scored its most goals since 2003 while picking up its first shutout of the season in a 6-0 win over NJIT on Sunday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Senior Natalie Hojnacki had a career game with a goal and three assists, while freshman Ali Griffin picked up the shutout in her first collegiate action.
"It was a great team effort," said head coach Eric Lambinus. "It was good to have this game coming off Army Friday night."
Following Sunday’s nonconference tilt, the Mountain Hawks (5-2-2, 0-1-0 Patriot League) play two straight league games next weekend looking to bounce back from Friday’s 1-0 setback at the hands of Army.
"We were trying to stay urgent, work hard defensively, and just work on some combinations coming off the ball," said Lambinus when asked about the team’s approach.
The 6-0 final marked Lehigh’s most goals scored and largest margin of victory since a 9-0 win over Delaware State in 2003. It also tied for the sixth largest margin of victory in school history, this coming in the first-ever meeting against visiting NJIT. Hojnacki’s three assists were the most since that same Delaware State game when Anne Johnson also had three.
Junior Ali MacLeod scored a career-high two goals as well, becoming the fourth Lehigh player with a multi-goal game this season.
After the opening minutes passed without a score, junior Jana Basubas broke the ice with a perfectly-placed shot into the top corner of the goal to give the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 lead at 15:08. Hojnacki picked up her first assist of the day on the play.
"We played pretty well overall," said Lambinus. "Jana’s first half goal was well taken. It took a lot of stress off. That was arguably the turning point."
Hojnacki set up the second goal with a run down the right flank and into the box. Her first shot was blocked, but the ball caromed right to MacLeod, who fired it into the open net for a 2-0 advantage at 26:41.
Junior Jamie Townsend scored her first-career goal just over 12 minutes later, taking a pass from senior Liz Carlos before finding the top right corner of the goal to make it 3-0 heading into halftime.
Lehigh went on to score three more in the second half to double its lead. Hojnacki netted her first of the season at 59:50 when she took a lead pass from Isabelle Li into the right side of the box. Her shot was deflected by NJIT goalkeeper Mele Sadie who was coming out strong, but it still caromed into the net for the 4-0 advantage.
Freshman Lauren Bradford scored her first-career goal at 70:30 when she took a beautiful centering pass from Hojnacki and beat Sadie high to make it 5-0.
MacLeod rounded out the scoring when her shot from just outside the box snuck underneath the crossbar at 86:32.
The Mountain Hawks led the final shot count, 23-3 while they had five corners to one for NJIT. Griffin made two saves for her first-career shutout and Lehigh’s first of the season, while Sadie was strong in goal despite allowing the six goals. She finished with seven saves.
A number of reserves saw significant action, including freshman Katie Gavalchin, who finished with three shots. Fellow freshmen Bradford, Paige Dyrek and Heather Camperson all saw action as well while junior Calyn Dolan played significant minutes as well.
The Mountain Hawks return to action next weekend when it hosts a pair of critical Patriot League games. They host defending league champion Colgate on Friday (7 p.m.) and Bucknell on Sunday (1 p.m.).