BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh women’s soccer team fell behind just 30 seconds in, but bounced back with a vengeance, tying the score just 11 minutes later before senior Isabelle Li netted the golden goal in the second overtime for a dramatic 2-1 win over Bucknell Friday night. The Mountain Hawks finished with a 32-13 shot advantage, including 13-1 in the 15:31 of overtime. The win marks Lehigh’s first Patriot League victory as it pulls within three points of the fourth and final postseason spot with two games still remaining.
“We made it really hard on the team this week, so they started to deal with adversity in training,” said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. “None of us really got scared when we gave up a goal, but we were able to keep our composure and score that next goal. I love that fact that even though late in the game we were really pressing and seemed to be unlucky, we didn’t stop. We kept going for it and got the win.”
A tough-angle chance found the back of the net less than a minute into the game as Chelsey Garkowski placed one perfectly into the top left corner of the goal to make it 1-0 Bucknell. However, Lehigh battled back as sophomore Darby Dustman netted her second of the season at the 11:30 mark. Junior Murphee Greeley made a nifty move in the midfield, fed Dustman in the right side of the box, who blasted a shot into the top-left corner of the goal.
The teams continued to earn chances, but Bucknell goalie Sandita McDermott and Lehigh freshman keeper Ani Nahapetian both came up strong, combining for five first-half saves.
Both sides continued to earn opportunities in the second. Li had successive shots just over five minutes in, but McDermott made the stops. Nahapetian made a pair of second-half saves, but Lehigh tested McDermott much more as the Bucknell keeper finished with five in that stanza.
The Mountain Hawks turned it up a notch in overtime, owning a 7-1 shot advantage in the first extra session. A strong chance came from junior Paige Dyrek, who fired a shot that was tipped by McDermott over the crossbar, forcing Lehigh’s sixth corner kick of the game.
Lehigh continued that momentum into the second overtime period, owning a 6-0 shot advantage which included two off a post. One came from Greeley in the 104th minute as she blasted a shot that hit directly off the crossbar and fell down, somehow staying out of the goal. Just over a minute later, freshman Paige Elliott hit the left post on another dangerous ball that somehow caromed out of harm’s way.
The Mountain Hawks would put it away for good less than a minute after that. From the midfield, freshman Emily Korber fed Li, who beat the Bucknell defender and went in all alone on McDermott. Li’s low shot slid just inside the right post amidst an on-charging McDermott to give Lehigh the dramatic victory. It marked the Mountain Hawks’ sixth overtime game of the season and second win as all five of Lehigh’s Patriot League games have been decided by a single goal.
“Emily beat their forward to the ball and played a good ball into a dangerous position,” said Lambinus. “Izzy outhustled the girl, beat their last defender to get free, had good composure and beat a really good goalie.”
The Mountain Hawks led the final shot count, 32-13, 18 more shots than their previous season high which (ironically) came in their other 2-1 overtime win (over Columbia). The 32 shots were the most by a Lehigh team since Oct. 1, 2005 when firing 36 vs. Lafayette.
I thought we were getting a little bit frustrated with the ball hitting the post and the crossbar,” said Lambinus. “Their goalie was outstanding; her hands were really good and she made a lot of strong saves. It was good that we kept pressing and trying to do some things. I was happy to see Izzy put that ball away.”
Corner kicks were 8-1 in favor of Bucknell while McDermott finished with 12 saves and Nahapetian posted five for her first-career victory.
The Mountain Hawks return to action Sunday when they play host to Colgate in a crucial Patriot League match. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
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