BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh women's soccer team used a strong all-around effort to pick up its first league victory of the season, downing new Patriot League member Loyola 2-1 on Saturday evening. Junior Danielle Salans scored the Mountain Hawks' first goal and created a penalty kick which senior Murphee Greeley finished for Lehigh's second. Junior Ashley Blanks made six saves in goal to help lead the charge.
"It feels really good to get a win in the Patriot League," said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. "We've worked really hard over this entire year, so it feels good to turn that corner a little bit."
Lehigh improves to 1-4-0 (three points) in Patriot League play and following Saturday's action, is only three points out of a league tournament spot with four games still remaining. Holy Cross and Bucknell are currently tied for fifth place with a 2-3-0 record and six points. Six teams qualify for the Patriot League Tournament.
The Mountain Hawks took an early 1-0 lead at the 8:51 mark off a corner kick. Making her first-career start, freshman Brinn McClennan helped force the corner. A succession of passes from junior Darby Dustman to sophomore Katie Centeno eventually found the leg of Salans, who blasted a lefty shot into the top right corner of the goal.
Lehigh controlled play through the early and middle stages of the first half, taking the first five shots (all by Salans). Loyola made a late charge to pull even at 6-6 in shots after 45 minutes of play. The Greyhounds had a golden opportunity late in the first half as Rosy Hayes found herself near the top of the box, but Lehigh freshman Laura Courtney made a strong defensive play to knock the ball away before Hayes could get a shot off.
A strong rush by Salans led to Lehigh's second goal. Making a charge into the box, she was tripped up, leading to a penalty shot which Greeley buried high to make it 2-0 at 64:11.
The Greyhounds wouldn't go quietly, scoring at 77:55 and continuing a mini barrage of shots, but many came from distance as the Mountain Hawks held on for the 2-1 victory.
"We took a hard look at ourselves this week and talked about the things we can improve," said Lambinus. "We've used words like grit, mental strength and being able to grow and lead. The girls had a really good week of practice. They've worked hard, and I think the results showed."
Final shots were 17-16 in favor of Loyola while corner kicks were tied at two apiece. Blanks finished with six saves across Didi Haracic who made three.
"Hopefully we can build on this," said Lambinus. "It comes down to belief and the strength to understand we can do these things. We don't have to be great, we just have to continue to get better on a daily basis and believe that we can be a better team the next day than we were the previous day. I think we're starting to do that. Hopefully the results will continue to build."
The Mountain Hawks will head to Princeton for a nonleague midweek tilt against the Tigers. Kickoff on Wednesday is set for 7 p.m.
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