HAMILTON, N.Y. – For the second straight year Lehigh’s men’s soccer season ended at the hands of American as the third-seeded Eagles scored a pair of second half goals to defeat No. 2 seed Lehigh 2-0 Friday night in the Patriot League semifinals at Van Doren Field. The Mountain Hawks out-shot the Eagles 13-5, but Mike Worden put American in front two minutes into the second half and Alassane Kane added a second goal late to move the Eagles into Sunday’s final against Bucknell.
“I’m really disappointed for our seniors,” said Lehigh head coach Dean Koski. “It’s a tough game for them to go out on. The final score wasn’t indicative of how we played. Our guys played well and created chances, but didn’t finish. We had opportunities to finish, but we didn’t finish.”
The two sides were scoreless after 45 minutes with the Mountain Hawks holding a 6-3 edge in shots. Lehigh’s best chance came when junior Joe Puleo found himself on the end of a corner kick in the box but the ball slipped off his foot and the opportunity was thwarted.
In the second half Worden opened the scoring in the 47th minute when he took a pass from Kane and beat Lehigh keeper Jonathan Nydell with a shot from outside the box.
“We had a defensive lapse,” Koski commented. “They came right through the middle of the park and got a good look at goal. It was the one lapse we had where we didn’t do a good job marking in the back.”
Down a goal, Lehigh pushed forward looking to equalize and created several good chances but were unable to finish. Sophomore Austin Decker had a good look at goal from inside the box in the 80th minute, but put his attempt over the crossbar. After American’s goal, Lehigh took the next seven shots, but could not convert. The Eagles capitalized on the counterattack, as Worden sprung Kane on a breakaway and Kane finished in the 87th minute to put American up 2-0.
Puleo led Lehigh with four shots on the night, while Decker had three and freshman James Meyerkord added two. Matt Makowski made six saves for American, while Nydell stopped two shots for Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks won six corners to just one for the Eagles and were whistled for just eight fouls compared to 12 for American.
“It’s a tough way to end our season, and four our seniors their careers, with a loss in the Patriot League semifinals,” Koski said. “I’m very proud of our seniors and the effort they gave our program over the last four years.”
Lehigh loses three seniors in Nydell, James Graf and Matt Thaeder.
The Mountain Hawks’ season ends at 8-8-2 while American improves to 7-8-3.