BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women's soccer team broke open a scoreless contest with two goals over the game's final 20:18 to earn a 2-0 victory over visiting Loyola on Saturday at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Freshman Lisa Kestelboym opened the scoring while sophomore Maggie Wadsworth scored a goal for her third straight game. With the win, the Mountain Hawks (8-4-4, 4-2-2 Patriot League) remain alive for a potential home game in the Patriot League Quarterfinals.
Lehigh now has 14 points on the season and needs a win over Holy Cross next Saturday at home along with a Boston University loss to Colgate in order to earn the No. 4 seed in the league tournament. The Terriers currently have 16 points.
"The second half was way better than the first half," said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. "We were just a little disjointed in our play and in our connection, but in the second half, I thought we trusted each other a little bit more, which paid off. We were definitely cleaner in the way we moved the ball, we had better spacing and we were more purposeful in the things we were trying to do. Even when we made mistakes, we were still pretty purposeful. Both goals were good goals that we developed and created through movement of the ball. I was proud of the way we scored goals, and there were a few other good chances we created as well."
The first half saw Lehigh outshoot Loyola 9-7, but the Greyhounds turned their opportunities into quality shots. Sophomore Sam Miller made three strong saves to keep the game scoreless while Loyola's Sumer Rahe added five first-half stops of her own.
Lehigh's first second-half shot on goal found the back of the net at the 69:42 mark. Near the end line, junior Sabrina Mertz centered, Wadsworth got a piece and the ball caromed to Kestelboym, who beat Rahe from in close, giving the Fair Lawn, N.J. native her second goal of the season.
The Mountain Hawks added insurance in the 88th minute as a sequence of passes led to sophomore Annika Jansa finding Wadsworth just outside the box. The ensuing shot curled perfectly into the top left corner of the goal for the 2-0 lead, which proved to be the final.
"We might have connected 8-9-10 passes, so when they connect that many passes and they do the things we ask them to do and they execute it, that's a good thing," said Lambinus. "I hope that gives them confidence because this team can play. They can do some really good things, but they have to continue to be confident in themselves."
Final shots were 17-13 in favor of Lehigh while corner kicks were even at four. Miller finished with five saves for her eighth shutout of the season and 20th of her career. Rahe made six saves for the Greyhound's.
"Loyola put us under some pressure," said Lambinus. "They got some balls in behind and they stretched us a little bit. I thought they did a good job with the way they moved the ball in the first half and it caused us to go back to some keys to the way we defend, and our shape. Once we fixed that shape, I thought we were better. Defensively, once we locked down what we wanted to do, we disrupted them a little bit more."
Lehigh returns home next Saturday, Oct. 28 to host Holy Cross on Senior Day. Opening kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
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