Posted: 10/20/2012 | Last updated: October 23, 2012 at 10:17 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – With just over seven minutes remaining, junior Kyle Lucas found the back of the net after a scrum in front of the Holy Cross goal to give Lehigh a 1-0 win over the Crusaders. The Mountain Hawks capitalized on a hard-fought effort for their second Patriot League win of the season, as Lehigh will now travel to face the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday night in their non-league finale before concluding the season with two Patriot League tilts.
"In terms of results, we are moving in the right direction," said head coach Dean Koski. "I’m happy for the guys because they continue to work hard. We didn’t play great in the first half, but we talked about having 45 minutes remaining to extend our season. I thought they did a better job in the second half of competing and playing the way we’re capable of playing."
The first half began with a defensive battle as the two teams kept the ball primarily in the middle of the field. Holy Cross started the action when a Crusader crossed the ball from the far side and found Andrew Rhodes in the Lehigh box. Rhodes chipped the ball toward the Lehigh net, but junior goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent was standing ready to make the save. The Mountain Hawks then went on the attack, as senior Matt Weaver was able to blast a rocket towards the Holy Cross goal, but the ball hit the near side of the net and ricocheted out-of-bounds. The Crusaders were able to get a clean shot off at Nugent later in the half, but the net minder held his ground, as the shot was kicked into his chest for the save. Lehigh senior captain Cam Omsberg added the last scoring attempt of the half, as he ripped a shot from about 25 yards out on the near side of the goal, but the Crusader keeper corralled the rock and kept the ball from the back of the net.
Lehigh amped up the pressure in the second half, as the Mountain Hawks consistently found themselves with chances on the Crusaders’ net. Junior James Meyerkord fired a shot that deflected off the Holy Cross keeper. The rebound was blasted into the back of the net by senior Matt Weaver, but the goal was waved off by the referees, as Weaver was called offside. Then, sophomore Rylan Collins split the Crusader defense and found freshman Ryan Bertrando in the Crusader box. Bertrando fired a shot that was saved, but off the rebound Lucas was able to get off a shot, but his blast was blocked by a defender and the ball bounced away from the goal.
With time winding down in the game, Lehigh continued its pursuit of the Holy Cross net and this time found the back of the net when Lucas capitalized on a rebound on the goal line. Weaver had fired two consecutive shots at the Holy Cross goal, each one stopped by the net minder, but off the second rebound, in the midst of a scrum, Lucas scored to give Lehigh a 1-0 lead with just over seven minutes to play.
"It’s very interesting because we trained yesterday for in-the-box finishing and he had a great day in practice. Seeing what he did today was very representative of what he did yesterday. I’m happy for Kyle because he’s worked really hard and it was a great goal for the program."
"We played a game on Friday called ‘The Box Game’ where we practice playing in front of the net. It was a scrum on the line and I was able to just put it in," said Lucas.
The Mountain Hawks played a strong defense to close out the game and preserve their one-goal lead, as any Holy Cross opportunity was turned aside. Nugent needed to make just one second half goal to collect his second-consecutive shutout. With the win, Lehigh is primed to play for a Patriot League Tournament spot when it hosts American next Saturday, before traveling to Army to finish out the season.
"I’m glad we’re still alive in the hunt for the playoffs," said Koski. "We’re going to focus on our next game with Maryland to get ready for American."
We understand that every game matters," Koski continued. "We really started the playoffs when we played Navy and if we can continue to do what we’re doing and try to get better every day, I think we have a shot."
Lehigh will now hit the road to face the number one team in the nation when it travels to College Park, Md. to take on the Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday, October 23 at 7 p.m.