EASTON, Pa. – Junior Jana Basubas broke a scoreless deadlock in the 69th minute and the Mountain Hawk defense did the rest as the Lehigh women’s soccer team (9-4-4, 4-1-2 PL) posted a hard-fought 1-0 win over Lafayette on a chilly Saturday evening in Easton. The win extends Lehigh’s Patriot League unbeaten streak to six games heading into next Friday’s league tournament showdown against Bucknell.
The Mountain Hawks earn the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament and will face No. 2 seed Bucknell next Friday evening, with the winner playing either No. 1 Army or No. 4 Colgate in the championship game on Sunday. The entire tournament will be played at top seed Army.
“It gives us good confidence to go on the road and get a win,” said head coach Eric Lambinus. “We’ve played some great games on the road this year, but hadn’t come away with a victory. It’s great to have a shutout on the road as well. Those two things will serve as a great confidence booster [heading into next weekend].”
The win marked the Mountain Hawks’ first on the road this season. They had defeated Saint Joseph’s at a neutral site and tied Columbia, Navy and American.
With the victory, Lehigh extended its winning streak over Lafayette to nine.
“Lafayette is a good team,” said Lambinus. “They work their tail off. They work and fight and put you under pressure.”
The Mountain Hawks dominated the first half, controlling possession while leading the shot count, 6-0, at the end of 45 minutes. It marked the first time this season that Lehigh has kept an opponent without a shot for an entire half.
One great chance came in the 11th minute when Lafayette goalkeeper Lauren Smedley made a sensational save of a Paige Dyrek shot. Senior Lena Cannon then caromed the ball off the rebound, but couldn’t convert.
The teams continued their back and forth play, leading into the second half where the Leopards turned up the pressure. They recorded their first shot of the game in the 56th minute. Then, at 60:49, Julia Bell fired a rocket from the top of the box, which went just over the crossbar.
The Mountain Hawks came right back with some glittering chances of their own. They converted at 68:14, taking a 1-0 lead when Basubas headed a cross from junior Genna Pepe past Smedley. It beat her low and just inside the left post.
Lafayette had opportunities to even the score over the closing minutes, but Lehigh senior goalkeeper Lauren Mains was up to the task. At 82:39, Shannon Neschke headed a free kick feed, which looked ticketed for the right post, but Mains made a sprawling save.
The Leopards had one last opportunity as time was expiring. Jill Dozier was sprung in on a mini breakaway, but Pepe somehow ran her down before a point-blank opportunity could be fired on goal. That preserved the shutout, Lehigh’s third of the season and Mains’ second.
“We got out of this game healthy, which is the biggest thing,” said Lambinus. “It gives us some momentum heading into the playoffs. It’s always good to get a road win, especially against Lafayette.”
Final shots were 10-4 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks had four corner kicks to none for Lafayette. Mains finished with two saves while Smedley made four for the Leopards.
Lehigh now looks ahead to the Patriot League Tournament hosted by Army. The Mountain Hawks enter as the third seed and will play two seed Bucknell in the semifinals on Friday while top seed Army will face fourth seed Colgate. Check back to Lehighsports.com for games times when they are announced.