BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh women’s soccer team got off to a quick start, scoring two goals in the first 10:24, but a strong La Salle squad bounced back to defeat the Mountain Hawks, 3-2 in overtime, on Sunday afternoon. Greeley scored twice in a 1:58 span while the combination of sophomore Ashley Blanks and freshman Ani Nahapetian made eight saves between the pipes.
“I don’t know who’s playing this trick on us, but it seems like cruel fate,” said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. “Again, I thought we did a lot of good things. That was one of the better teams we’ve played, a team that made an NCAA run last year. They didn’t play over the weekend, so that was their first game and we matched them the entire game.
“The best thing [now] is we start over with the Patriot League,” Lambinus continued. “We’ve learned a lot about ourselves; we know we can play. It will feel that much better when we pull it off.”
Lehigh hung neck and neck with a regionally-ranked La Salle squad which won at #20 West Virginia in its season opener. The Explorers are coming off an undefeated regular season and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011.
Lehigh began the scoring in the ninth minute when sophomore Danielle Salans set Greeley up with a one-on-one match-up against La Salle goalie Gabby Pakhtigian. Greeley fired a shot from the right side, into the bottom left corner to put the Mountain Hawks up 1-0.
Just two minutes later, junior Paige Dyrek ripped a shot from the left side of the La Salle box. Pakhtigian was able to make the save, but off the deflection, senior Isabelle Li found a wide open Greeley who put the ball into the back of an open net to give Lehigh a 2-0 lead at the 10:24 mark.
The first half scoring was not finished as the Explorers got on the board in the 19th minute when sophomore Gabriella Carbone fired a shot from 30 yards out. The ball was deflected by a Lehigh defender, but caromed over Blanks’ head to cut the Mountain Hawks’ lead in half.
Blanks faced four shots in the first half, stopping three of them to preserve the one-goal lead going into halftime.
The Mountain Hawks would face a plethora of shots in the second half, but Nahapetian was able to preserve the lead until the 89th minute when Explorer sophomore Kelsey Haycook tipped in sophomore Anna Dolhansky’s cross from the left side of the box to knot the score at two.
After five minutes of overtime, La Salle ended the game when junior Renee Washington headed junior Leigh Gray’s pass from the left side of the box past Nahapetian to give the Explorers the 3-2 victory.
The Lehigh goalkeepers were able to stop eight of 11 shots on goal (each making four saves) while Pakhtigian posted two. La Salle outshot the Mountain Hawks, 23-9, but the Lehigh defense was strong, only allowing a handful of scoring opportunities. Corner kicks were 6-3 in favor of the Explorers.
“We can only take a positive out of it is if we learn from it and play well against Lafayette on Saturday,” said Lambinus. “We have continued to get better and the girls haven’t quit. We know that we’re better than our record, but we are what it is.”
The Mountain Hawks will now look ahead to Patriot League play when they head to Lafayette next Saturday (Sept. 29) for a 7 p.m. clash with the Leopards.
“The good thing is we’re 0-0 [in the Patriot League],” Lambinus continued. “We have an opportunity to win a game and step in the right direction. It’s only positive if we can continue to build.”
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