BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Seton Hall scored two goals in a 2:36 span midway through the second half to break a scoreless tie as the Pirates (3-0-0) spoiled Lehigh’s season opener, 2-0 on Friday. Sophomore Ashley Blanks was stellar in goal, making a career-high 13 saves in goal to keep the Mountain Hawks (0-1-0) close. Lehigh will face its second straight Big East foe next Friday (Aug. 31) when it travels to Providence.
“Our speed of play has to be a little bit quicker,” said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. “You could tell they had a couple games under their belt and we didn’t. It’s hard to get into that speed. But it’s a great time to play a really good team. It shows us exactly what we need to work on, how we can improve and how we can play quicker and do the things to become a better team.”
Lehigh had some chances from the get-go, as junior Murphee Greeley played in a cross that just missed the mark. Just minutes later, Seton Hall played in a similarly dangerous cross which didn’t connect.
The teams went back and forth through the rest of the half. Although Seton Hall held a 12-0 edge in first-half shots, the Mountain Hawks had their fair share of offensive opportunities. Lehigh’s biggest surge came early in the second half, posting both of its shots on goal in a 1:45 span. The second was a close shot from sophomore Darby Wiegand off a Greeley cross, but Pirates’ goalie Gina Maiorana was there to make the save at 51:22.
Seton Hall came right back and put on the pressure. In the 58th minute, Blanks made a big diving save off an Ashley Clarke shot that looked ticketed for the far corner. However, less than a minute later, Brittney Albrecht found Marie Klemme who headed it inside the far corner to make it 1-0 at 58:02.
Then less than three minutes later, Albrecht hit a rocket from outside the box, placing it perfectly into the top corner to make it 2-0 at 60:38.
Seton Hall continued its pressure, finishing with 18 second-half shots (10 on goal). Blanks continued to make several strong stops, punching numerous shots over the crossbar that looked ticketed for the back of the net.
“The team is trying to do the things we showed them; they want to do it and they want to get better,” said Lambinus. “There are going to be positives coming out of this. Hopefully we can continue to build on what we did in camp. We’re still a young team. We have to learn through play to get better.”
The Pirates held a 30-5 edge in shots and 9-2 in corner kicks. Blanks finished with 13 saves while Mairoana had two.
“We’re not afraid to give up shots from distance because we know Ashley’s going to make saves,” said Lambinus. “Maybe we made her look too good today because we would’ve liked to stop them a little bit more. But Ashley’s just a solid goalie; she’s not going to make any big mistakes. She’s going to learn from any mistakes she does make and she’s going to make you beat her.”
The Mountain Hawks return to action next Friday when they travel to Providence to face the Friars. That precedes a game at Binghamton on Sunday, Sept. 2. Lehigh won’t return home until Friday, Sept. 14 when it hosts Marist at 7 p.m.
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