BETHLEHEM, Pa. – One goal was enough for the Dragons on Friday night as the Lehigh men’s soccer team dropped to Drexel by a final score of 1-0. Junior goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent made seven saves on the night but a strong Drexel defense stifled the Mountain Hawks’ attack, allowing just one Lehigh shot late in the second half.
"I felt like we were challenged to manage the ball offensively and struggled to get possession and build up any attack," said head coach Dean Koski. "Drexel did a nice job of pressing us and forcing the ball into our backs."
Tonight’s game started as a defensive battle between the Mountain Hawks and Dragons, resulting in just three shots-on-goal between the two teams through the first 45 minutes. Nugent was tested three times by the Drexel offense but was able to keep the ball out of the net in the first half. The Lehigh offense was stifled throughout the first period, unable to test Drexel goalkeeper Tim Washam. The Mountain Hawks were in hopes of a second half push as they have been late starters offensively thus far throughout the young season.
"Defensively I think we managed it really well," said Koski. "We made some changes going into this game as a result of injuries and Ali (Famili) stepped into the center back position and I thought he did really well."
The second period started slow but in the 55th minute, the Dragon defense misplayed a ball in its own box and freshman Shane Mulcahy was able to gain control behind the Drexel keeper but before a shot could be taken, Washam was able to dive behind himself and steal the ball back. In the 63rd minute, Drexel was able to strike when Ken Tribbett beat Nugent off an assist from Fabio Machado.
After the goal, Nugent remained strong in net, making the four other saves in the second half to help keep Lehigh in contention until the final whistle. Lehigh’s late push to tie the game was stopped when sophomore Brian Suchoski’s shot was blocked from about five yards out in the 82nd minute and the Mountain Hawks were called for an offside in the 89th minute.
"We are still making progress and our guys are continuing to work hard and get after it," said Koski. "It’s not a matter of effort, it’s a matter of execution and we’ll get there. We just need to keep working hard in practice and keep trying to improve on the things we need to get better at."
The Mountain Hawks will have four off-days to regroup before they return to action when La Salle will be welcomed into the Ulrich Sports Complex on Wednesday night for a match slated to start at 7 p.m.