BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Just moments after being recognized prior to opening kickoff on Senior Day, senior Maggie Wadsworth put home the game's only goal in the sixth minute which helped the Lehigh women's soccer team to its third straight home win, defeating Holy Cross 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. In the process, the Mountain Hawks snapped the Crusaders' 10-game unbeaten streak, handing them their first defeat of Patriot League play and first loss of any kind since late August.
Lehigh remains in the middle of a very tight league race, but with the victory and out-of-town results, stands in the top six (and an all-important Patriot League Tournament spot if the season ended today). Prior to opening kickoff, the Mountain Hawks honored their six seniors – Wadsworth, Kathryn Jacobellis, Kayla Arestivo, Annika Jansa, Sidonie Warnecker and Mary Casey.
"It was great," said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. "Sometimes on Senior Day, you're not sure what to expect because there are a lot of emotions. I like the fact that it's not our last game (or home game). We still have some games left, which allowed us to play a little bit freer, so the timing of Senior Day was actually pretty good. Not having Annika in, I thought the team stepped up and played for her and played for Kat."
Lehigh has now won three straight home games, over Bucknell, Boston University and Holy Cross – teams that all entered the day top six in the Patriot League standings.
The Mountain Hawks came out of the gate strong, posting the game's first three shots and first corner shot. Lehigh's first shot on goal found the back of the net at the 5:18 mark as sophomore Abby Furtmann found Arestivo near the top of the box. Arestivo made a quick touch to Wadsworth, who made a quick move and fired a perfectly-placed shot into the top right corner of the goal.
"We wanted to play quickly in the midfield," said Lambinus. "Holy Cross hasn't given up a lot of goals. We wanted to be really aggressive, take some shots, try to go at them 1 v 1 and try to put ourselves in a good position. That's exactly what happened. Maggie has been working really hard in training. She just picked her head up and hit the ball. We moved the ball quickly in the midfield, found Maggie, she didn't hesitate and pulled the trigger. It was a good goal."
Each team had chances over the remainder of the first half, but the defenses stood tall to eliminate many quality opportunities. Late in the half, the Mountain Hawks did have a couple good looks. In the 41st minute, junior Grace Forsyth found Arestivo in a strong position near the center of the box, but the shot went wide. Then in the final seconds of the first half, Casey from midfield fed Arestivo crashing towards goal, but Holy Cross goalkeeper Sophia Lettieri came out strong before Arestivo could get a shot off.
The second half saw much of the same, with the Mountain Hawks continuing to attack looking for insurance. Their best chance came in the 73rd minute when junior Ally Friedman fired a shot directly off a free kick. Lettieri made the stop, then the Crusaders cleared a potentially dangerous rebound.
The Crusaders had one last surge in them, tallying four of the game's final six shots – two of which were stopped by junior goalkeeper Miranda Royds. By far her best stop of the afternoon was in the 86th minute. Off a free kick, Bridgette Dwyer looked to have found the top left corner, but Royds punched the ball off the crossbar, helping preserve the 1-0 victory.
"Holy Cross is really good on long throws, corner kicks and free kicks," said Lambinus. "I think we could have done a better job of finishing the game. We had a bunch of good chances in the second half and we were starting to play really well, but if we put one more goal away, it could have finished the game. We need a little bit more composure at the very end, but we held up strong."
Final shots were 14-10 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks held a 4-1 edge in corner kicks. Royds made five saves for her seventh shutout of the season. Lettieri tallied three.
The Mountain Hawks now hit the road next Wednesday to face Colgate. Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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