VESTAL, N.Y. — Lehigh men's soccer fell on the wrong side of a 2-1 game on Tuesday night, as Binghamton used goals in the 89th and 91st minutes to take down the Mountain Hawks in overtime at the Bearcats Sports Complex. With the loss, Lehigh falls to 3-2-0 on the season, as it gets ready for Patriot League play to begin on Saturday at American.
"If we're going to lose a match, then this is a good time to do it because we can learn a lot from it," said head coach Dean Koski. "Our nemesis tonight was ourselves, we beat ourselves. I thought we had the game in hand and then we fouled recklessly on top of the box and we knew that one of their strengths was dead balls, so we just didn't manage the game well."
In the first half, Lehigh won the shots battle between the two teams, though no one was able to put a ball in the back of the net. Zarin Tuten had the Mountain Hawks' first shot on goal of the night in the seventh minute, but was saved by the Binghamton keeper.
Both teams went to the locker rooms at the half with no score. Lehigh came out into the second half more aggressive on offense with a shot on goal in the 48th and 51st minutes, but both were saved by Mats Roorda.
"I think we just need better ball movement, I think some of our decisions and our passing coming out of the neutral third and into the attacking third weren't the best decisions, but those are things we can work on," said Koski. "But I don't think we committed enough chances to earn ourselves a win and I don't think we defended well enough to do that either.
"The margins are slim here in college soccer, we needed to take care of business and we didn't do that tonight."
Two-time defending Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week Josh Luchini used a pass from Stevo Bednarsky to score from the left of the box into the upper right corner of the net to give the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 lead. The goal was Luchini's fourth in as many games and the 10th of his career. Bednarsky's assist is his first of the season and fourth of his career.
"Stevo is always going to make plays that aren't going to show up in the statsheet, but he's going to show up as an unsung hero in every match," Koski said. "He knows his role, but I thought the ball he played to Josh was a great ball and Josh did a great job finishing, but both of them would say it doesn't mean anything to them because we didn't get the result."
For the remainder of the second half, up until the closing minutes of the game, Lehigh's defense coupled with senior goalkeeper Will Smith kept the Bearcats' offense at-bay, but Binghamton had an answer in the 89th minute, as Noah Luescher rocketed a ball off a free kick that went past Smith for the tying goal. This came following a Lehigh foul right above the box that put Binghamton in prime scoring position.
The goal sent the match to overtime for the first time in 2019, but the period was short-lived as an Andrew McDonnell score from Luescher went behind Smith for the overtime game-winning goal in 91st minute.
Despite dropping the decision, Lehigh out-shot Binghamton 9-8 with the advantage in shots on goal, 5-4. Both teams had six corner kicks throughout the duration of the game with fouls in favor of the Bearcats, 16-14.
Lehigh again is on the road on Saturday against American for the first Patriot League contest of the 2019 slate. The Mountain Hawks fell to the Eagles last season, 1-0 at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
"We have to take the first six games that we played and learn lessons from each one of them," said Koski. "Whether you win or lose, you have to learn some lessons and hopefully we have. We have to prepare ourselves appropriately for American, they're the only thing we have to worry about now. They're in a similar situation where they've played a tough schedule, but it's a new season for them and we have to be prepared to go down there and have a formidable challenger in front of us."
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