BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh field hockey team fought back from an early 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead, but Ball State responded with the equalizer in regulation and game-winner in overtime to spoil the Mountain Hawks’ season opener. A pair of freshmen scored Lehigh’s first two goals of the season while senior Kim Eng finished with a goal and two assists to lead the offense.
“It was good that we were able to come back,” said Lehigh head coach Stacey Blue. “We played down a man a couple times and we were still able to possess the ball, which was good. We need to come out strong and ready to play tomorrow. I’m not taking anything away from that team; they worked hard.”
The Cardinals got off to a hot start, as Tori Widrick scored at 4:54 and 18:22 to make it 2-0. The first came off a scramble in front before she capitalized off Ball State’s first penalty corner of the afternoon.
Less than six minutes later, Lehigh pulled within one. Off its first penalty corner of the game (and season), Eng fed freshman Erin Ricker, who fired a low shot past Ball State goalkeeper Maddi Elliot at 23:49.
After almost 26 minutes of scoreless action, the Mountain Hawks tied the score early in the second half as freshman Rachel Werley converted a pass from Eng to make it 2-2 at the 43:48 mark.
“The freshmen are tenacious and always looking to score,” said Blue. “They’re aggressive. I’m really proud of them. I thought they did a great job today.”
Lehigh continued its pressure, turning it into the go-ahead goal at 62:33. Sophomore Steph Fratoni sprung Eng in from the midfield. The senior made some moves and fired a high shot into the cage at 62:33.
However, Ball State responded just 1:15 later as Widrick scored her third of the game off a rebound in front to make it 3-3.
Both sides earned chances in overtime, with Ball State holding a 6-3 edge in shots. In the end, the Cardinals gained three straight penalty corners, which led to the game-winning goal. Sophomore goalie Sydney Maltinsky-Wilson made a pair of sensational saves at 76:06 and 77:56, but Ball State’s Leanne Goldblatt scored at 78:39 off its third corner in 1:49.
Ball State held the edge in shots, 24-12 and penalty corners, 6-3. Maltinsky-Wilson finished with 10 saves for the Mountain Hawks while Elliott had five for the Cardinals.
Lehigh returns to action in less than 24 hours when it hosts Liberty Sunday at 1 p.m. The Mountain Hawks will head to Penn on Friday before returning home once against on Sunday, Sept. 2 vs. Saint Francis (Pa.).
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