Lehigh falls at UConn in season opener
STORRS, Conn. – The Lehigh men's soccer team evened the score in the 78th minute, but UConn responded less than six minutes later to down the Mountain Hawks, 2-1 on Friday evening in the season opener for both sides. Lehigh netted the equalizer behind a Mark Forrest penalty kick after sophomore Stevo Bednarsky was fouled in the box. Junior Will Smith was strong in goal, making four saves, none more impressive than his stop in the 88th minute to keep Lehigh within striking distance.
"It's a really good season opener for us to have on the road in a pretty thriving soccer environment with a lot of fans," said Lehigh head coach Dean Koski. "The crowd was into it and did a good job of getting in our players' ears. It's good for our players to discipline themselves and just go out there and play. We competed for 90 minutes. We made some mistakes on restarts that cost us, but those are things that we can fix. I liked our mentality and I liked that the team came out and played the way we wanted them to play, which is a positive."
Smith made two saves early in the first half - in the fourth and 15th minutes. Later in the half, Lehigh fired its first two shots, off the foot of freshmen Josh Luchini and Nick Jennings, while the defense held the Huskies without a shot for more than 22 minutes. However, late in the half, UConn turned a corner kick into a 1-0 lead as Robin Lapert headed a cross into the top corner of the goal.
UConn tallied six of the first seven second-half shots, but the Mountain Hawks were pressuring, which led to the equalizer. After Bednarsky was fouled in the box, Forrest put home the penalty kick at the 77:57 mark for his 34th career goal.
The Huskies followed by turning a foul near the top of the box into the go-ahead, and eventual game-winning goal as Felix Metzler converted the free kick at 83:51 to account for the final.
"We were putting on pressure all game," said Koski. "We put a ball in the box and Stevo did a really good job of getting fouled and Mark finished. We were creating opportunities. We have to do better with the final product, whether it's a finish or pass. We weren't as good as we want to be, but it's early in the season. We'll look at the video, get better and move forward."
Final shots were 17-4 in favor of UConn while corner kicks were even at two.
"The guys who played for us did a good job," said Koski. "Will had a really good game and bailed us out at times. Everything we asked of the team throughout the preseason, they did. We didn't get a result, but we move onto the next game."
The next game for the Mountain Hawks is Monday vs. Drexel at 7 p.m.
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