WEST POINT, N.Y. — For the first time in quite some time, offense was the key in getting the victory, evident by Lehigh's 3-0 victory over Army West Point in the Patriot League opener Saturday night.
The victory is Lehigh's third straight shutout, finally winning a game by scoring more than one goal, as the previous three victories ended up being 1-0 wins.
"It was as good of a start as we wanted it to be in the Patriot League opener," said head coach Dean Koski after his team's 3-0 win. "We were really good in all three phases of the game. It was a nice win, but we know that not all league games aren't going to shape up this way. We have to continue to set our sights even higher moving forward."
Freshman Josh Luchini was all over the field all night for Lehigh and really made his case offensively early on with a goal in the 33rd minute, assisted by freshman Michael Tahiru and senior Mark Forrest. Luchini later scored on a header in the 60th minute, also assisted by both Tahiru and Forrest. In the 71st minute, Luchini had a really good shot at getting the hat-trick after his shot trickled behind Army goalkeeper Justin Stoll before being cleared by a Black Knight defender.
"It was the first time that Josh (Luchini) and Mark (Forrest) got to play together as forwards," said Koski. "We were just getting Josh adjusted defensively and offensively. Tahiru, (Nick) Jennings and all the midfielders all played a big role for us, but Josh and Mark really were a handful.
"Josh Luchini is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential," Koski continued. "He was our man of the match; He even helped us a lot defensively, playing very well on both sides of the ball. He knows it's just one game, but he's trying to be the best player he can be."
Tahiru assisted on the second goal of the match, a corner kick to the top of the box and in for freshman Nick Jennings.
The defense played lights out once again, with junior Zarin Tuten leading the way, but a lot of new faces found themselves working together to limit the Black Knights from getting offensive chances.
"I was pleasantly pleased with our backs tonight," said Koski. "Dawson (Berger) did a really nice job in his first Patriot League game. There were times when we had a lot of freshman out there, but I really was pleased with how we managed the defensive side of the ball. Of course, Will (Smith) did a great job in goal with our defense."
Now, the Mountain Hawks return back to the Ulrich Sports Complex on Tuesday night, searching for their elusive first win in front of their home fans. Lehigh hosted Penn to a scoreless draw last weekend.
"I think we just need to not worry as much about winning at home and just go out and play," Koski said. "There really is something about playing on a field that we know, but that's a thing our young guys will come into. We need to show results on the road or at home Tuesday night. It really doesn't matter where the game is played."
Lehigh won the shot battle 14-8, including nine shots on goal to Army's three. Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week Will Smith recorded three saves to capture his Patriot League-leading fifth shutout of the season and lowered his GAA to a league-leading 0.71.
The Mountain Hawks return home to face Cornell on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. That match will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network.
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