BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Army West Point scored in the 50th minute on a free kick to account for all the game's scoring as the Black Knights defeated the Lehigh women's soccer team, 1-0, on Saturday in the Patriot League opener for both sides. The Mountain Hawks, who have now lost two straight for the first time all season, had numerous chances to pull even, including two glittering opportunities in the final 10 minutes. However, Army goalkeeper Sydney Cassalia made strong stops of senior Sabrina Mertz and sophomore Lisa Kestelboym to preserve the victory for her side.
"We can talk about playing well, we can talk about doing some good things and progress, but the ultimate impression is we lost 1-0 in our first Patriot League game and now, we don't have three points," said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus.
A fairly defensive first half saw Lehigh hold an 8-3 edge in shots. The goalkeepers combined for five saves (three from Cassalia and two from Lehigh sophomore Miranda Royds).
The second half saw Army record the first three shots, the second of which found the back of the net in the 50th minute. Sydney Witham took a free kick from just outside the box and fired it perfectly into the top left corner of the goal to give the Black Knights a 1-0 lead.
After Army's initial surge, the Mountain Hawks tallied nine of the game's final 11 shots, beginning with shots on goal from juniors Maggie Wadsworth and Annika Jansa. Lehigh's best chances down in the final 10 minutes. First, Mertz's hard shot from inside the box was stopped by Cassalia in the 81st minute. Just minutes later, Kestelboym found herself even closer to goal, redirecting a Clare Severe cross towards the left side of the net, but Cassilia quickly moved laterally to make the save and preserve her fourth straight shutout.
Final shots were 17-8 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks held a 4-0 edge in corner kicks. Royds finished with three saves for Lehigh while Cassilia posted seven.
"We have the talent to play with any team in this league, but right now, we don't have the toughness to win," said Lambinus. "We've shown that over the last three to four weeks. Until we develop that and until we want to do it, we can say the right things, but we're not going to win. In training, when we're putting together free kicks and we're not executing, then it shows when we don't execute in games."
The Mountain Hawks will return to action next Saturday (Sept. 22) at Boston University at 4 p.m.
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