BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Aided by a strong defensive effort and one lucky bounce, Lehigh picked up its first win of the season with a 1-0 shutout of Binghamton in the Mountain Hawks’ home opener Friday at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Senior tri-captain Leah Kulp delivered the only goal of the game in the 35th minute as Lehigh extended its home winning streak to ten games.
“It was a much-improved performance over our Seton Hall game,” explained Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus, “We worked on some things over the last few days, like pressuring the ball and keeping possession. Our defensive pressure was great. We limited them to very few chances. We’ll get better in the offensive third. We just have to have a little more composure when we have quality chances.”
Lehigh (1-0-1) out-shot Binghamton 14-7 on the night while each team took two corner kicks. Freshman goalkeeper Ashley Blanks made one early save en route to her first career win and shutout.
The Mountain Hawks were able to create several quality chances early, but freshman Elizabeth Bergman and sophomore Murphee Greeley saw their shots stopped by Bearcat keeper Carrie Martin.
Despite the early chances, the only goal of the match came rather unconventionally. From just inside the center line Kulp sent a long ball in the air towards Greeley at the top of the box. The ball soared too far for Greeley but landed in the box and bounced over the head of Martin and into the net to give Lehigh the lead. The goal was the second of Kulp’s career and the first since the center back scored against Cornell in 2009.
“When you put a team under pressure, they’re going to make mistakes,” Lambinus said. “We’ve got to try to capitalize on more of those mistakes. I thought we had a good amount of pressure but Binghamton’s defense played well. They felt the pressure though. It paid off for us. It was a lucky goal but it changed the game a bit so we were able to play a little differently. I’m pleased though, with our improvement from our last game.”
Binghamton (2-3) picked up its intensity early in the second half, and nearly tied the game when Connie Gormley headed home a free kick in the 53rd minute, but the play was ruled offside. Lehigh’s regained its focus and limited the Bearcats to just four shots in the second half, none of which were on goal.
“Our back four has a lot of confidence in Ashley,” Lambinus said. “We always want to limit shots and try to keep things in front of us as much as possible. Ashley has done well and I know the girls are trying to protect her a little bit but she’s a pretty confident girl.”
On the other end, Lehigh pressed for an insurance goal which never came. Greeley finished with seven of Lehigh’s 14 shots, while Bergman and junior Izzy Li had two shots apiece.
The Mountain Hawks will return to the pitch on Friday, September 9 when they host the Monmouth Hawks. Game time is set for 7 p.m. from the Ulrich Sports Complex with video coverage available on Lehighsports.com.