NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Despite owning a slim shot advantage, the Lehigh men’s soccer team struggled to put them on goal, coming out on the short end of a 1-0 final at Yale on Wednesday evening. The loss snaps the Mountain Hawks’ (7-6-2, 3-1-1 Patriot League) three-game winning streak as they head into the final two league games of the regular season.
“I think we had a few pretty good chances in the second that we just didn’t finish,” said head coach Dean Koski. “Overall, it was a pretty evenly played game, but the biggest difference was that Yale appeared to be hungrier. We had a fairly lackluster performance and I don’t know what to attribute that to. Not having Melchionni, Graf and Decker playing tonight was significant, but I think we have pretty good players in our lineup to compete, so I’m disappointed with our performance overall.”
The teams traded opportunities in the early going until Yale converted the first goal at 37:19. Jonathan Nydell made the initial save of a Jenner Fox shot, but Cody Wilkins headed one past the senior goalkeeper only 20 seconds later to make it 1-0.
The Mountain Hawks continued to have opportunities, but were unable to convert. Just 30 seconds into the second half, junior Joe Puleo had a chance from the left of the box, but it went wide. That was the story of the game as Lehigh continued to find opportunities, but its shots were off the mark.
“I don’t think we created enough chances over 90 minutes to make the keeper work,” said Koski. “We didn’t challenge him enough. I think that was our biggest struggle; we had opportunities to shoot on frame, but missed.”
Lehigh led the final shot count, 9-8, while also forcing a season-high 11 corner kicks to only one for Yale. Nydell finished with three saves while Yale’s Matt Chesky made two.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Sunday when they travel to Army for a 1 p.m. kickoff. With a win, Lehigh would clinch its second straight Patriot League Tournament berth.
“Army right now is the most important game in our season,” said Koski. “In spite of their season, we’ve seen them play and know they’re a very good team. Their draw against Lafayette is an indicator they can compete with anybody in the league.
“We’ll have to bring our best,” he continued. “It will be a challenging game for us and we need to play a 90 minute game to get the three points.”