BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s soccer team saw its season come to an end Tuesday night at the Ulrich Sports Complex as the fourth-seeded Mountain Hawks suffered a 4-0 loss to No. 5 Bucknell. The Bison move on to Friday’s semifinals while Lehigh ends its season with a 10-8-1 overall record.
“I’m disappointed for the guys,” said head coach Dean Koski. “They’ve had such a good year and have worked so hard to get to this point. Tonight was obviously frustrating for them and the coaching staff, but there’s certainly plenty to be proud of this season.”
The Mountain Hawks were predicted to finish tenth in the Patriot League, but finished league play with a 5-3-1 record as Lehigh secured its first ten win season since 2006. The Mountain Hawks will lose four seniors to graduation in Ali Famili, Ciaran Nugent, Brian Suchoski and Matt Shreiner.
The first good scoring opportunity for either team came in the eighth minute when the Bison were set up with a corner kick. Lehigh junior Brian Vail headed it out of the box before Bucknell’s Jesse Klug sent a rebound high above the goal. About five minutes later after another Bucknell corner kick, Lehigh countered with an attack down field as freshman Doyle Tuvesson fired a shot that was blocked by the Bison back line. The play set up a corner kick and another blocked Lehigh shot before it the ball was cleared from the area.
The Mountain Hawks continued to pressure as junior Jamie Luchini fired a shot that was deflected just wide of the goal in the 15th minute to set up another corner kick, but Bison keeper Clarke Fox came out to make the stop before a Lehigh player could connect.
Fox was forced to make the first save of the game in the 26th minute on a chipped free kick from Luchini. The Bison got on the board in the 30th minute as a Mark Leibensperger free kick was deflected off the wall and then another Lehigh player and into the back of the net in what was credited as an own goal. Just two minutes later, Bucknell added an insurance tally on a goal from Jonathan Grad to go up 2-0, a lead the Bison would take into halftime.
Lehigh threatened in the first seven minutes of the second half with a pair of shots and a corner kick, but the attempts flew wide. Lehigh keeper senior Ciaran Nugent made a fantastic diving save in the 55th minute, but the Bison added their third goal of the evening in the 65th minute when Thorsheim sent a free kick directly across the box and into the lower right-hand corner of Lehigh’s net.
The Mountain Hawks had a few more chances in the final 20 minutes of the contest, including a blocked free kick just a few feet outside of Bucknell’s 18-yard box, but couldn’t find the back of the net. A foul in Lehigh’s box led to a converted penalty kick from Klug in the final minute to secure a 4-0 Bucknell victory.
Lehigh held a 13-12 shot advantage, but the Bison controlled a 6-3 shot on goal edge and 4-3 corner kick lead. Nugent finished with two saves compared to Fox’s three.