Posted: 09/21/2012 | Last updated: September 21, 2012 at 02:46 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team will host the Bucknell Bison on Saturday night to begin its quest for the Patriot League crown. The Mountain Hawks will be in search of reaching the Patriot League Tournament for a fourth consecutive year after finishing third with a 4-2-1 record against league opponents in 2011. Tomorrow night’s game will be a Summit Series event which will include a $5 admission charge, but I.D. card holders (students and faculty/staff) will remain free of charge.
Lehigh holds a 24-23-8 all-time advantage over the Bison, including a 1-0 double-overtime win in 2011. After a stalemate for 106 minutes, 6-3 senior Kevin Strunk was able to connect on a header in the 107th minute to give the Mountain Hawks the win in Lewisburg, Pa., and snap a Bucknell three-game winning streak. Of the last three matches between the two squads, two have gone into overtime with the Mountain Hawks prevailing both times as Lehigh has taken two of the last three meetings.
In their last match, the Mountain Hawks fell to Brown by a final score of 1-0 despite a strong second half that included seven shots and multiple scoring opportunities. The only score was off a cross from the left side that was tipped in by a Bear to give Brown a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. Lehigh had two close scoring chances in the second half. The first was a blast from sophomore Brian Suchoski from the right side of the box that went just to the left of the goal in the 82nd minute. The next Mountain Hawk opportunity was three minutes later when freshman Jamie Luchini ripped a shot from about 15 yards out but he hit the crossbar and the ball bounced harmlessly away. In his first start of 2012, senior Taylor Sulmonetti played 90 minutes in net, allowing one goal and making six saves.
Bucknell enters tomorrow’s contest with a 4-1-2 record, while riding a four-game winning streak in which it has outscored its opponents 14-1. The Bison have most recently knocked-off Adelphi and Albany in the Class of ’98 Invitational by final scores of 7-0 and 4-0, respectively. Bucknell sits atop the Patriot League with an average of 2.43 goals per game and boasts a stingy defense that has allowed a league-minimum 0.71 goals per game.
Senior Brendan Burgdorf, a 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy watch list member, leads the Bison with six points via two goals and two assists, while juniors Mayowa Alli and Joe Meyer, along with sophomore Conor Keeley have all registered two goals as well. On defense, freshman Mike Lansing has started six games in the net, posting a 0.76 goals against average during his 596 minutes in goal. Fellow freshman Clarke Fox has earned a shutout while playing the full 90 minutes throughout his only start in a 7-0 win over Adelphi.
For the Mountain Hawks, Suchoski leads the team with two goals, while freshman Dilan Casanovas-Mack and junior Ben Wysocki have each recorded an assist. Junior Ciaran Nugent leads the Mountain Hawk defense, starting five games in net for Lehigh, collecting 24 saves and posting a 1.75 goals against average.
Lehigh’s next match will take place on Tuesday when the Mountain Hawks will welcome Penn State to the Ulrich Sports complex for a game time slated for 7 p.m.