NEW HAVEN, CT – The Lehigh men’s soccer team earned its second-consecutive victory after junior forward James Meyerkord found the back of the Yale net in the 88th minute for a 1-0 non-league win over the Bulldogs. Junior keeper Ciaran Nugent collected the shutout as he, and the rest of the Mountain Hawk defense turned away any opportunities by the Bulldogs throughout the match, while on the offensive side, Lehigh kept the ball inside the Yale zone for most of the contest. The Mountain Hawks will now return to Patriot League action this Saturday at 4 p.m. when they play host to Holy Cross.
"We were good enough to manage the game defensively tonight," said head coach Dean Koski. "On the offensive side, we did a good job of creating opportunities. Being able to move in the right direction in the final leg of the season is important for us and what is important for this team right now is focusing on how we’re going to finish, not how we started."
The Mountain Hawks started the game having to defend their goal, as the Bulldogs tested Nugent just three minutes into the match, but the junior keeper was up for the task and was able to make the save. The next two Yale shots missed the net, sailing wide and high. Sophomore Brian Suchoski started the Lehigh attack when he blasted a shot at the Bulldog net, but Yale net minder Blake Brown was there to keep the Mountain Hawks off the board for the time being. Lehigh proceeded to put tremendous pressure on the Yale defense, firing three shots in a span of two minutes, but the attempts either missed the net or were stopped by the Bulldog net protection. Lehigh finished off the half by continuing the flurry of shots, blasting five more attempts within five minutes, but as the horn sounded, the score remained a 0-0 draw after 45 minutes. Meyerkord was responsible for four of the nine Mountain Hawk shots in the first half, while Suchoski fired three more.
"I don’t think we gave Yale a lot of great looks," said Koski. "Managing an attacking team like Yale is important. I would have like us to have been a little cleaner, but they didn’t get a lot of shots-on-goal."
The Mountain Hawks began the second half with more pressure on the Yale defense, as junior Ben Wysocki and Suchoski both ripped shots, but to no avail. Then, in the 47th minute, Meyerkord found the back of the net off a header, but was called offside and the goal was waved off, keeping the match scoreless. Lehigh continued to fire shot-after-shot at the Yale net, registering eight second half shots overall. With just 2:10 to play, Meyerkord found himself with the ball in the middle of the field. The junior forward raced through the Bulldog defense and fired a left-footed shot inside the near post to give Lehigh a 1-0 lead on his first goal of 2012. Yale was able to get off one more shot, but the attempt sailed high and as the final horn sounded, Lehigh earned its second-consecutive win and third overall of this season.
"James did a nice job tonight of finding shooting opportunities," said Koski. "I encourage him and everyone else to shoot more because they’re going to find the back of the net."
Lehigh outshot the Bulldogs 17-13 on the night and had four more corner kicks, as the Mountain Hawk offense consistently stressed the Yale defense throughout the match. On defense, Nugent came up with all three saves needed in order to record the shutout.
"We have to build on our momentum," said Koski. "The work that they put in and the trust they have in one another is starting to pay off. As long as we continue to build on that, it gives us more momentum going into this weekend and the rest of our season."
Lehigh will return home for its next match when the Crusaders of Holy Cross will be welcomed into the Ulrich Sports Complex on Saturday, October 20 at 4 p.m. for a crucial Patriot League match-up.