Posted: September 23, 2005
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – It took almost 87 minutes, but No. 30 Lehigh was able to score the one goal it needed, to open Patriot League play with a 1-0 shut out of Navy on Friday evening at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Junior John O’Reilly scored the game-winner at the 86:22 mark on a penalty kick that just beat Midshipmen goal keeper Aric McElheny to the center of the net. Sophomore goal keeper Charlie Sales stopped six Navy shots on the evening to give him his fourth shut out of the season, and ninth for his career. With the win, the Mountain Hawks, who are ranked fifth in the Mid-Atlantic Region, improve to 4-1, and 1-0 in Patriot League play, while the Mids, drop to .500 at 4-4 overall, 0-1 in league action.
Head coach Dean Koski offered much respect for the Mountain Hawks opponent following the emotional win. “Navy is a much improved team, there is no doubt about that. I was impressed with how they fought. At times we did not play well, and at other times, we did play well.”
Koski then commented on having to play without two starters, in seniors Elliot Leonard (ankle injury) and Jim Stevens (red card ejection in the previous match), who both missed the game. “That was the most important thing for us, to be able to play well and get the result without two of our main guys. I think (freshman) Patrick Cucci stepped in for Jimmy, and did very well, which is a lot to ask of a freshman. John O’Reilly moved into Elliot’s spot in the center back position and Tom Zubulake, a walk-on transfer, helped to steady our defense. Just a great all around effort.”
The two teams went after each other from the start, matching physical play with more physical play. In all, there were 24 fouls called, 15 of them coming against the Mids. The biggest obviously being at the 86:22 mark, just before O’Reilly’s game-winner.
For the game, Lehigh out shot its opponents 21-14, but had just one corner, to the Mids four. McElheny stopped five Mountain Hawk shots, while senior Adam Williamson led the Brown and White with six shots, and McKenzie Plank and J.P. Murphy each had four for Navy.
Lehigh returns to action on Sunday afternoon, when the Mountain Hawks travel to Richmond, Va. to take on the Richmond Spiders of the Atlantic-10. Game time is set for 1:00 and the game will be broadcast live on Richmond’s website at richmondspiders.com.