ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A game-winning goal in the 68th minute and an insurance goal in the 82nd minute is all Lehigh men's soccer needed to pick up a giant 2-0 victory over No. 22 Navy Saturday night at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility. The Mountain Hawks (9-4-1, 5-0-1 PL) officially clinch a Patriot League Tournament berth with the victory and ends the Midshipmen's (11-1-1, 4-1-1 PL) 16-game unbeaten streak dating back to last season. The victory also pushes Lehigh into sole possession of first place in the league with just three games left to play.
"This is a good result for us to play against one of the better teams in our league and team that has had a great run with a national ranking and to come into their place and get a result and score two goals was important for us," said head coach Dean Koski. "I certainly don't think we were great in the first half, but didn't make any adjustments at halftime, we just wanted them to play for the goal and not let up."
Lehigh had the first chance of the game with a header shot from Josh Luchini in the 38th minute that was saved by Ian Bramblett. However, Navy dominated the first half in shots, 6-2 with a couple of close chances, but Will Smith made a save in the 42nd minute to keep the game scoreless heading into the locker room.
The start of the second half was a lot different of a story for the Mountain Hawks' offensive attack as Natan Rosen had two shots in a span of three minutes between the 48th and 51st minutes. Michael Tahiru had his first shot on goal in the 66th minute that was saved by Bramblett that kept Lehigh's offense going.
The Mids had a header shot that was saved by Will Smith in the 67th minute that would have given Navy a 1-0 lead.
And then in the 68th minute, Josh Luchini took a feed off a goal kick from Smith, created some room off a loose ball and rocketed the ball from the top of the box and past Bramblett for the score, putting the Mountain Hawks up 1-0. The goal was Luchini's first since the beginning of October and his 10th of the season. He becomes just the third Mountain Hawk (Mark Forrest and Jamie Luchini) to score at least 10 goals in a season.
Fast forward to the 82nd minute, Luchini played a ball to Trevor Koski at the top of 18, where Koski delivered the blow off the top of the crossbar and in for the insurance goal, putting Lehigh up 2-0 late. The score was Koski's third of the season and Luchini's first of the year as well.
"I thought Josh found a really good goal for us, just fought his way through," said Koski. "And Trevor's goal gave us a little bit of padding really helped us get a bit of a breather and put Navy in a really uncomfortable situation, because I don't think they've played from behind at all this season."
Navy had two more chances to score in the final nine minutes, including a Jacob Williams shot that was saved in the 82nd minute, but Lehigh held on for the decisive victory on the road.
Despite holding a slim lead in shots in the second half, Navy held on for the 11-8 advantage, while Smith made four saves to Bramblett's couple. The Mountain Hawks led in fouls, 13-12 while Navy had a 1-0 advantage on corner kicks.
Luchini led the way with four shots, two on goal, while Rosen added a pair, along with Tahiru and Koski.
The win puts Lehigh in the driver's seat for the rest of the season for the program's first regular season title since 2006. The Mountain Hawks are undefeated in league play after six games for the first time since the 2006 season.
The tournament berth is also Lehigh's third consecutive and seventh in the last 10 years. This will be Head Coach Koski's 18th career tournament berth in his 28 seasons as Lehigh's head coach.
"I think our goal was (heading into the season), is to try to be the first or second seed," Koski said. "We know that if we get the bye, that's all we need. If we continue to set our sights on staying in those positions, I think it really helps us going into the tournament."
Next up on the schedule is a date with archrival Lafayette in The Rivalry match Saturday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
"Lafayette is a much improved team, they've had really good results, they're scoring goals and they are a team that is certainly going to be a tournament team," said Koski. "I think this is going to be a good test for us to see how we can respond to playing a good team on our own field to against a team that we might see again down the road.
"But we honestly just need to make sure we stay focused on what we need to do this week, get some guys healthy and make sure guys make good decisions and then appropriately prepare for Lafayette like we've done all season."
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