EASTON, Pa. — After three straight offense-centric matches, the Lehigh men's soccer team's goal scoring offense didn't show itself on Saturday, falling to archrival Lafayette 1-0 at Mike Bourger Field at Oaks Stadium on Saturday.
The Mountain Hawks and the Leopards went into the locker room at halftime with the score all knotted up before a crowd of 587. Lehigh had just one shot to show for in the first 45 minutes to Lafayette's three.
However, it didn't take long for the Leopards to find their opportunity, with a key shot in the 49th minute as Lehigh was charged with a hand ball in the box setting up a Chris Gomez penalty kick that rebounded off junior goalkeeper Will Smith and trickled into the net. Just like that, early in the half, the Leopards found themselves up 1-0.
"That's part of the game," said head coach Dean Koski on the penalty kick goal. "And we had enough chances that we could've leveled that game and it would've turned but we didn't get there."
The offense found themselves searching to find a way to equalize the game in the last 40 minutes of the contest, but despite outshooting the Leopards in the final half, 6-4 and keeping Lafayette out of the net for the remainder of the game, the Mountain Hawks weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities that presented themselves during the course of the game.
"We did everything we wanted the team to do in terms of our approach to this game other than our final product," said Koski. "We had chances to score, we had chances to put in better services and better crosses and we just didn't do it. We had chances to shoot and we didn't do it.
"So if you don't increase your chances of shots and if you don't have a better final product against any team, whether it be in the Patriot League or all of Division I soccer, it's hard to score goals."
The Mountain Hawks had chances to score and get close to Lafayette goalkeeper Alex Sutton, who made four saves and recorded his fifth shutout of the season.
Senior Mark Forrest had two shots on goal for Lehigh, while sophomore Blaise Milanek had one and senior Matt Morana had the other.
With the defeat, the Mountain Hawks suffer their first Patriot League loss of the season and fall to 7-5-1 on the year, 4-1-0 in the league. For Koski and his team, while the loss surely stings, the defeat is just a blip on the radar of the bigger picture this season.
"It's always a goal to beat every Patriot League team and certainly Lafayette is no exception," Koski said. "But our most important goal is to get into the Patriot League tournament and to finish as the highest seed as we possibly can and we're still on track to do that, but no one's going to hand it to us, we have to go earn it."
Lehigh takes a break from Patriot League play on Tuesday night when the Mountain Hawks visit Dartmouth in another Patriot-Ivy League battle. That game will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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