BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh field hockey team scored all four of its goals in a 12:06 span in the first half, which proved to be enough as the Mountain Hawks downed Penn, 4-3, for their first-ever win over the Quakers, on a rainy Wednesday evening at Ulrich Field. Seniors Caitlin Donnelly, Abby Tilton, junior Kim Eng and freshman Natalie Tacka all scored for the Mountain Hawks while sophomore Sierra Segear impressed with 11 saves, seven coming in the second half.
Coming in, Lehigh had been 0-9-1 all-time against the Quakers; Wednesday marked the first meeting between the two sides since 1995. Overall, the Mountain Hawks have bounced back from a tough start to the season by winning two of their last three games and three of their last six.
“I definitely think our first-half effort was much better than our second,” said Lehigh head coach Stacey Blue. “I’d like to have the first half effort, but over a complete 70 minutes.”
The Mountain Hawks’ four-goal first-half outburst marked a season-high for goals in a half while their four total scores tied a season-best, previously accomplished on two other occasions.
“I think we passed well as a team and were running together, so we were able to generate a lot of offense in the first half,” said Blue. “Penn stepped up in the second and put the goals in the net; it was a good game.”
The Quakers controlled play in the early going, posting eight consecutive shots after Lehigh recorded the first, with the eighth beating Segear to make it 1-0 at the 12:37 mark.
Lehigh quickly responded, and in a big way, beginning when Donnelly scored for the second straight game, taking a feed from Eng and beating Penn goalkeeper Kieran Sweeney low at 15:46. Eng made it 2-1 less than three minutes later at 18:14 as she took a pass from junior Kelsey Zeswitz and rocketed a low shot into the back of the cage for her team-leading ninth goal of the season.
Tilton gave Lehigh a two-goal cushion at 24:36 later, tip-toeing the end line before beating Sweeney, despite a tough angle. Tacka wrapped up the scoring barrage just 3:16 later, as she converted a strong offensive push by the Mountain Hawks which saw two initial chances saved before the goal.
Penn turned it up in the second half, outshooting the Mountain Hawks, 13-3, and scoring at 41:17 and 49:42, but Segear stood especially tall. The sophomore made seven saves, five coming down the stretch after the Quakers pulled within a goal to help Lehigh hold onto the 4-3 victory.
The Quakers finished with a 23-11 shot advantage while they out-cornered the Mountain Hawks, 10-4. Segear posted 11 saves for her 10th double-digit save performance of the season while Sweeney finished with four for Penn.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Saturday when they host Bucknell in a key Patriot League showdown. It will also be Senior Day as Lehigh’s four seniors will be honored prior to the 1 p.m. game.