BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team held their own against No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday night, but fell in the end by a 3-0 score at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Senior keeper Jonathan Nydell made five stops in goal and junior Joe Puleo led the way with three shot attempts on the night. Lehigh drops to 4-5-2 with the defeat.
"I think there are certain things we can improve upon, but I think we showed that we have good enough players and smart enough players to be competitive with a very good team," Lehigh head coach Dean Koski said.
Nydell kept the Mountain Hawks in the game early on when he lunged to his left and tipped away a wicked shot from Maryland’s Matt Kassel in the 20th minute. Kassel came close once again in the final 10 minutes of the half, driving a shot just wide of the left post.
The Terrapins (8-2-1) finally did break through in the 40th minute when substitute Sunny Jane headed home a cross from Patrick Mullins. Mullins received the ball on the left wing from Jason Herrick and floated a perfect cross through the box, where Jane made clean contact with his forehead and directed the ball off the left post and in.
Despite a 9-2 shot disadvantage, the Mountain Hawks found themselves down by only a goal at the break, and nearly were able to tie the score early in the second frame. Sophomore Cameron Omsberg headed a Neal Melchionni corner toward an open corner of the net, but a Maryland defender chested the ball down on the goalline and cleared it away to preserve the score in the 51st minute.
Puleo then came close to scoring in the 65th minute after sophomore Austin Decker played him a cross just inside the box. Puleo was able to settle the ball and make clean contact, but the shot swerved just wide.
As Lehigh continued to plug away for an equalizer in the final 15 minutes, the Terrapins hit back on the counter attack. Billy Cortes doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 75th minute, before Jane added his second of the day off a feed from Casey Townsend 1:31 later.
By the final whistle, the Terrapins held a 22-6 shot advantage and an 8-3 edge in corner kicks.
"I think we can grow from these types of losses and mature," Koski explained. "I thought Cameron Omsberg was very good once again filling in for James Graf at center back."
The Mountain Hawks will return to Patriot League action on Saturday when they host Holy Cross on Saturday at 1 p.m. Fans that can’t make it to the Ulrich Sports Complex can watch the live broadcast on Lehighsports.com.