BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team opened its 2011 season with a 0-0 tie against Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Sophomore keeper Ciaran Nugent had six saves en route to his second career shutout.
"Ciaran did what we think he is capable of doing," said head coach Dean Koski. "He is very athletic and certainly is a very good keeper and did a great job late in the game with keeping us in the game. He was a difference maker in overtime and that’s what you need from your keeper when the moment arises."
Two of Nugent’s six saves came in a flurry late of the first overtime when Stony Brook’s Berian Gobeil Cruz lined a shot that Nugent knocked down. Then Will Casey collected the rebound and hit the post with his first shot followed by a second shot on goal, but Nugent was there to deny him.
Lehigh countered with a chance of its own early in the second overtime when sophomore James Meyerkord dribbled into the box, but his shot went wide of the goal, one of his five shots on the day.
"James is coming off an injury so he wasn’t able to train that much over the last week so to be able to get him out there and get some attacking production from him in the way of shots is a good thing," said Koski. "Now we just have to get them on frame but you aren’t going to score if you don’t take shots."
The Mountain Hawks outshot Stony Brook in regulation 12-9, but the Seawolves were able to get off four shots in the extra periods to just one for Lehigh.
"We were not good in the attacking third," said Koski. "We gave away too many balls and were a little sloppy. We want to start to build in some layers on our attack. We haven’t spent that much time on it, but we will get better and figure out what the right pieces are."
The Mountain Hawks almost found themselves down a goal early in the game when six minutes in, Stony Brook’s Sverre Ofstad got loose on a breakaway, but Nugent came out of goal to make a sliding save.
Lehigh had one of its better chances a little past the halfway mark of the first half when senior Kevin Strunk put a header on goal off a free kick, but Stony Brook keeper Stefan Manz made the save just inside the post.
"The Stony Brook goalie made an incredible save, I can’t fault our forwards for that," said Nugent. "We had them pressed and we were going forward trying to get that win. It will come; it’s only the first game."
Koski echoed those thoughts.
"It’s one game," he said. "We were lackluster in the attack, but I was very pleased with our defensive performance. I think we did a good job of defending what I think is a good offensive team."
Lehigh takes the pitch again on Wednesday, August 31 when they travel to play Fordham at 7 p.m.