BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In the final minute of action, the Lehigh men's soccer team fired five shots on goal in the span of seconds, but American goalkeeper John Mino made three saves, while his defenders cleared two others out of harm's way, to help the Eagles past the Mountain Hawks, 1-0 on Saturday evening at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The loss marks Lehigh's second straight Patriot League defeat, but the Mountain Hawks still remain 7-6-2 overall and 4-2-0 in league play with three regular-season contests remaining.
"As a coaching staff, I don't think we got our guys' mindset right for what to expect," said Lehigh head coach Dean Koski. "We're struggling to find the back of the net. We haven't scored in three games. That's a frustration on behalf of the team and the coaching staff. We just have to think about what we need to do better in the final third. I believe that games are won and lost in the final third and our level of commitment to scoring in the final third isn't what it was in the beginning of the season."
The first half saw American hold a 7-3 edge in shots, but each side had just one shot on goal. Lehigh's shot came from junior Nolan Coulter in the 22nd minute, while the Eagles' opportunity, which came in the 44th minute, found the back of the net. A succession of headers eventually led to Oscar McConnell giving his team a 1-0 lead at the 43:47 mark.
The Mountain Hawks controlled possession through most of the second half, holding a 13-5 advantage in shots, eight of which were on goal. In the 68th minute, senior Mark Forrest fired a hard shot on goal, which Mino saved. The rebound squirted loose in a dangerous spot, but Lehigh couldn't put home the rebound.
By far Lehigh's best opportunities came in the final minute. Off a corner kick, the Mountain Hawks had five glittering chances. Sophomore Stevo Bednarky's first two shots were saved by Mino, then cleared off the line by American's Matt Sloan. Freshman Josh Luchini followed with a hard shot that Mino saved. Another Luchini chance was also saved by the Eagles' defense, before Bednarsky got in one more shot that was saved by the goalkeeper, to help preserve the 1-0 final.
"We don't want to rely upon officiating calls or non-calls," said Koski. "We don't want to point fingers at anybody but ourselves. That's the messaging to the team. We're ultimately responsible for putting that ball in the back of the net and we're not doing a good job of that."
Final shots were 16-12 in favor of Lehigh while corner kicks were even at four. Junior Will Smith made two saves for Lehigh across Mino, who made seven stops for the Eagles.
The Mountain Hawks will return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Bucknell to face the Bison. Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
"Bucknell is always a really tough opponent for us, whether they're here or whether we're there," said Koski. "I have great respect for the coaching staff, what they do there and we know that's going to be a tough game for us. We have to get ourselves ready for that game. That's our only focus right now, recovering from tonight and getting our minds right for Bucknell."
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