EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette scored in the 14th minute, which proved to be the difference, as the Lehigh women’s soccer team dropped its Patriot League opener to the Leopards on Saturday night by a 1-0 final. The Mountain Hawks did have chances, especially in the second half, when they controlled possession, but couldn’t put one past Lafayette goalie Lauren Smedley.
“There was effort in the second half, but it definitely wasn’t there in the first,” said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. “About halfway through, it seemed like we decided we wanted to play, and from then on, I thought we did a pretty good job. But when you don’t show up in the beginning of the game in a Patriot League game against your rival, you’ll go down 1-0. I questioned them and challenged them to bring it for 90 minutes every single day.”
Lehigh had its first golden opportunity in the game’s first minute as junior Murphee Greeley corralled the ball after Smedley mishandled it. Greeley’s ensuing shot was saved, however, to keep the game scoreless early on.
Lafayette made the Mountain Hawks pay in the 13th minute when Nicole Brownell sprung Jill Dozier in all alone on Lehigh sophomore goalie Ashley Blanks. Dozier beat her low to make it 1-0.
Both sides had chances as Lehigh narrowly escaped a 2-0 deficit as a Jaclyn Giordano shot went just wide in the 36th minute.
Lehigh almost evened the score in the 42nd minute as junior Paige Dyrek made a nifty move to set herself up for a high shot which looked ticketed for the back of the net. However, Smedley got a piece to deflect the ball off the crossbar and out of harm’s way, keeping the score 1-0 at the half.
The Mountain Hawks controlled possession over the second stanza, but couldn’t net the equalizer. Dyrek had another golden opportunity, finding herself in all alone on Smedley, but was unable to get a shot off.
In the 66th minute, sophomore Darby Dustman came in all alone as well, but couldn’t convert as Smedley made one of her two second-half saves. She finished with four for the game.
“We just played with more intensity in the second half,” said Lambinus. “We played like we wanted to win the game. We had composure. We played a good game; we got some good chances, but we just have to finish them.”
Lehigh pressured over the final minutes, but couldn’t net the equalizer, getting shutout for the first time in six games.
Lafayette held the final edge in shots, 7-5, while each side had a corner kick. Blanks made one save in the first half while freshman Ani Nahapetian made two in the second.
Lehigh returns to action on Monday when it travels to Columbia to face the Lions on Monday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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