First place on the line as Lehigh battles American Saturday
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team (7-2-5, 3-1-1 PL) will travel to take on American (6-10-1, 4-1-1 PL) Saturday at 1 p.m. in a match that could determine the Patriot League regular season champion. American currently sits in first place with 12 points, but Lehigh is right behind with 10 points. A victory and three points for the Mountain Hawks would put them in at least first place and in control of their own destiny.
Lehigh can’t clinch a playoff berth with just a win over American as they would need a loss or tie by one of Navy or Lafayette as well. The Mountain Hawks will be looking for their third-straight playoff berth while American is in a “win-and-in” situation.
It will be the 18th meeting between Lehigh and American. While the Eagles hold the edge 10-4-3, Lehigh and American have battled each other in the previous two Patriot League semifinal matches. In both of those matches, Lehigh fell – in PK’s in 2009 and then 2-0 last year. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Eagles in the regular season, however, 2-0.
The Mountain Hawks will look to avenge those losses Saturday as the Lehigh offense has been on fire, scoring eight goals in its past three matches. The Mountain Hawks most recently put up their highest goal total of the season as they defeated Holy Cross 4-1. Kevin Strunk scored his third goal of the season in the 37th minute while Brian Suchoski had his first career game-winning goal as he scored in the 42nd minute. Neal Melchionni then scored twice in the second half to put the match away. Lehigh’s four goals were the most it has scored in a game since the Mountain Hawks scored four against Army on October 30th, 2009.
Suchoski was recently named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for his performance against Holy Cross and prior to that match, Suchoski netted his first career-goal against Albany.
While the offense will hope to continue to find the back of the net, the Lehigh defense will have to be just as good as it’s been all season as it takes on a strong American offense. The Mountain Hawks entered the week ranked No. 2 in the nation in goals against average (0.30), No. 2 in saves percentage (0.927) and No. 4 in shutout percentage (0.67).
The nationally-ranked Lehigh defense will be up against an American offense that has scored 10 goals in five Patriot League matches which leads the league as does its 2.0 goals per game. The Eagles’ nine assists and 1.80 assists per game also lead the league as well.
Alassan Kane leads the way for American as he has six goals and two assists on the season. Kane’s 42 shots ranks second in the league while his points (14) rank him second and his goals rank him third. Tyler Collins is close behind him, ranked fifth with five goals.
There will be live streaming video of the match on AUeagles.TV for $7.95.