BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team defeated Navy 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks outshot the Midshipmen 23-10 as Daniel Odenwelder scored the game-winning goal in the 17th minute and Joe Puleo added an insurance goal in the 43rd minute. The offense combined with the Mountain Hawks’ eighth shutout of the season and Lehigh now sits in a three-way tie for second place in the Patriot League standings with seven points.
“Getting three points against Navy is huge and I’m certainly pleased that we were able to find two goals,” said head coach Dean Koski. “We did what we needed to do to get the win so I’m certainly pleased with the performance.”
The Mountain Hawks came out firing as it had five shots in the game’s first 15 minutes. Then deep on its own end, a Navy defender failed to clear the ball out. Brian Suchoski recieved the ball at the 18-yard box and with his back to the goal, laid off a quick touch pass for Odenwelder who hit a brilliant strike that found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Lehigh kept the pressure on and right before halftime, the Mountain Hawks added an insurance goal. Neal Melchionni played a ball up to Puleo who took a few parallel dribbles before finding space on the 18-yard box and connected with his right foot for his third goal of the season.
“Getting two goals was huge especially in the first half,” said Koski. “I liked the way we moved the ball and we did a better job with when we had looks, we put the ball on frame.”
The Mountain Hawks had 11 shots in the first half to Navy’s five as Lehigh’s attack showed no letdown with 12 shots in the second half. In that second half, the Mountain Hawks fired five shots in the half’s first 15 minutes. First, Suchoski took a shot in the 50th minute that was saved. Then four minutes later, Lehigh had a flurry of chances. Melchionni had a shot blocked from in close which was followed up by a Suchoski header that hit the crossbar. Then it was Suchoski again who had an open look which was saved and off the rebound, Melchionni got another look but that was also saved.
Then in the 73rd minute, Lehigh had one of its best opportunities of the half to add on another goal when Matt Weaver beat a defender in the box and had an open look at a header but was unable to get it on frame as he was cleated in the rib mid-air.
“In the second half, we had some really terrific opportunities and we didn’t finish those,” said Koski. “I really wanted that third goal just to take a little pressure off.”
Suchoski and Meyerkord had five shots apiece and Melchionni had four shots while three Lehigh players had two shots.
Joseph Greenspan led the way for Navy with four shots, three of which were on goal. Greenspan had a couple opportunities to get the Midshipmen on the board but keeper Ciaran Nugent was there each time to thwart the attack. Nugent finished the match with five goals as the Lehigh defense managed to keep the Patriot League leading Navy offense off the board.
Lehigh will be back on the pitch Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in a non-league match against Albany at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The match will be streamed LIVE on Lehighsports.com.