WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army rallied from a 1-0 deficit with a pair of goals to down Lehigh, 2-1, in a pivotal Patriot League women’s soccer match that kept the Black Knights (6-9-0, 1-3-0 PL) in contender status for one of four conference tournament berths next month.
Junior Joey Molacek’s team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 77th minute off an assist from classmate Kim An snapped a 1-1 halftime tie and lifted Army to its first league win of the season in its league home debut at Clinton Field.
An sent the ball from the left side to Molacek who tapped it into the net for her second game winner of the season and 14th career goal. The assist is An’s fourth of the season and career eighth.
“I didn’t remember that much until I saw Kim going all the way down to the corner flag and me making a run in,” said Molacek. “Kim was able to turn two to three players and find me in the box, and I was able to finish it.
“We had Lehigh on its heels most of the game and we had a lot of opportunities, but two goals proved to be enough today. We have had a few losses, but this is the game that counts and we turned it around at the right time. We have three games left to get into the playoffs.”
An also talked about the importance of the win and Army’s hopes of earning one of four berths to the league tournament to be hosted by the highest seed the first weekend in November.
“I took the ball down the line and looked in and Joey made a great run and was wide open, and all I had to do was lay it in to her, said An. “It was just perfect.
“The win means the world because it is due or die now in the league. Every game is a playoff game. As a junior, I have just one more season, so I am giving it my all.”
Army’s defense did not allow Lehigh (2-12-0, 0-4-0) a shot over the time remaining, while the Black Knights’ offense ripped off four with An booting three of her game-high eight attempts during that span.
Lehigh opened the scoring on a goal by Darby Wiegand in front of the net at the 30:41 mark, but that proved short lived as Army freshman Candace Stewart tied the game 1-1 on an unassisted tally just 2:27 later. Stewart outran a pair of defenders and raced down the field and beat Lehigh keeper Ani Nahapetian, who finished with eight saves, with a 10- yard shot that landed in the right hand corner of the net for her second goal of the season.
Just before the halftime intermission, Stewart had a wide open shot on net that just missed the inside left corner of the post that draw ahs from the crowd as the teams went into the locker room tied at 1-1.
The Black Knights outshot the Mountain Hawks 8-4 in the first half and 14-1 in the second for a 22-5 margin, along with a 5-3 corner kick advantage.
Army took the first four shots of the game with two right in front of the Lehigh net, but the Black Knights were unable to finish as they went over the top of the goal. Army started the second half the same way with three straight shots on goal by Stewart, Katie Holder and Ruthie Rosenberger.
“We dug ourselves into a hole in our first three league games,” stated Army interim head coach Fred Thompson. “We now have to dig out of it. The plan is take care of the game this weekend and next weekend take care of those games (Army and America). Hopefully, by the time we get to our last game (Lafayette), all the marbles will be going there.
“Our offense has been good for a while, but we have been snake bit in front of the goal and haven’t really scored the goals. But we are creating opportunities. Sometimes when that happens, you tend to lose a bit of confidence when you are not scoring. It was good to see us creating opportunities today, running hard and making chances and getting in the box.
“It is also nice for the team to be home and in the friendly confines of Clinton,” continued Thompson, “so we hope to do what we did today with two very good teams this coming weekend.
Army, currently in sixth place with Lafayette (1-3-0) with three points, has three remaining league games in Navy (Oct. 19) and American (Oct. 21) this coming weekend at West Point in closing out the home slate followed by a road trip to the Lafayette Leopards (Oct. 28) for the regular-season finale.
Navy is currently tied with Colgate for first place with 3-0-1 marks in the league standings after battling to a 1-1 overtime draw in Hamilton, N.Y. American is third in the standing at 3-1-0 with its lone loss to Navy, while Lafayette is coming off a 2-1 win over Holy Cross. Bucknell and Holy Cross are tied for fourth place in the standings with 2-2-0 marks.