Posted: 09/16/2012 | Last updated: September 16, 2012 at 04:26 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s soccer team dropped a hard-fought match to regionally ranked Brown University on Sunday afternoon, 1-0. The Mountain Hawks outshot the Bears 7-6 in the second half in an attempt to tie the game, but to no avail as the strikes were unable to find the back of the net. The match was the final tune-up before the Mountain Hawks open Patriot League play this Saturday with a home match against Bucknell.
"I can’t say I’m disappointed in our effort," said head coach Dean Koski. "Our effort was good, particularly in the later stages of the game. I thought our guys competed, which we needed to see."
The first half started as a defensive struggle for both teams. For the first 10 minutes, the ball was played primarily in the middle of the field as neither team was able to get off a shot. Brown then started to put the pressure on the Mountain Hawks when Bobby Belair was able to test senior Taylor Sulmonetti but the Lehigh keeper was up for the task, deflecting the ball in the air and coming down with the save.
The Bears had their second chance to score when Alex Markes fired a shot from the left side off of a corner kick but missed the net wide to the left. The Mountain Hawks were then able to fire their first shot at Brown keeper Sam Kernan-Schloss when junior Ben Borin blasted a shot from the left side but Kernan-Schloss was able to snag the ball in the air.
Brown opened the scoring when Belair tipped in a cross from Voltaire Escalona in the 28th minute to put the Bears up, 1-0. Senior captain Cam Omsberg kept consistent pressure on the Brown defense, getting off three shots in the first half but none tested the Bears’ keeper.
Sulmonetti started the second half by coming up with a huge save when Brown midfielder Kevin Garvey ripped a shot from about five yards out. But the Lehigh keeper was able to make an impressive sliding save to his right to keep the ball out of the net.
"Taylor brings leadership, experience and a positive energy out there and we thought that this was a game we could give him a look and give Ciaran a rest," said Koski. "I was really pleased with Taylor’s effort today and I think he performed the way he is capable of performing."
The Mountain Hawks would pressure the Brown defense, firing a flurry of shots in a scramble towards the end of the game. In the 82nd minute, forward sophomore Brian Suchoski ripped a shot from the right side of the net and across the goal crease but it went just wide to the left, keeping the score at 1-0 in favor of Brown. Just three minutes later, freshman Jamie Luchini fired a shot from 15 yards but the strike hit the top right portion of the crossbar and bounced harmlessly out of bounds.
"I thought our guys brought a good level of intensity and physicality against a big team but I like that we didn’t back down and I like that our guys competed," said Koski.
With Patriot League play looming, Koski is hoping that the experience gained through the non-league games will benefit his squad when the hunt for the Patriot League title begins on Saturday.
"Now the real season begins for us and hopefully we’ve learned some lessons and we get results when it matters most," said Koski.
Lehigh will be back on the pitch when the Mountain Hawks open Patriot League play on Saturday in a home match against Bucknell. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.