Leopards Fall Short to Arch-Rival Lehigh in Overtime Classic
Sept. 30, 2006
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - It was everything you expect when Lafayette and arch-rival Lehigh meet each other. The added enthusiasm and intensity that both teams bring to the rivalry. This meeting ended in the 97th minute of an evenly played game, when Lehigh took advantage of a penalty kick to give the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 victory on a soggy Saturday night at Mike Bourger '44 Field at Oaks Stadium.
The game's first 10 minutes was spent mostly in the midfield, with each team trying to get a feel for the wet grass and game conditions. Lehigh used two through balls over the Lafayette defense, but was unable to register a shot. Then, with 25 minutes left in the first half, Lafayette junior tri-captain Caroline Tuttle ripped a shot that deflected off Lehigh goalkeeper Julie Kafka. The ball came out to sophomore midfielder Lauren Hinkel, one took one-touch and sailed a shot just over the crossbar.
The chance seemed to energize the Leopards, as they controlled the next six minutes, keeping the ball deep in the Lehigh defensive end.
With just under 16 minutes left before intermission, Lehigh changed the momentum when senior forward Daniela Molina took a pass that created a breakaway. Molina dribbled in and took a shot headed for just inside the far post. However, Leopard junior goalkeeper Mary Kate Erdman reacted and made a kick save with her right foot to halt the Lehigh scoring opportunity.
Just as the Lafayette scoring chance seemed to energize the Leopards, Molina's chance seemed to ignite the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh controlled the final 10 minutes of the half, but was only able to tally one shot on goal.
The second half began eerily similar to the first half, with both teams working the midfield.
The Leopards created a chance when senior midfielder Carolyn Fisher sent a ball over the Lehigh defense to find sophomore Jacquelyn Marchese on the right side. Marchese dribbled towards the goal and placed the ball over Kafka, but just wide right of the goal.
Lehigh took its turn to pressure the Lafayette defense. With 16:30 left, Molina seemed to have created another breakaway. However, as she broke inside the 18-yard box, junior tri-captain Ashley Yelland sprinted across and slid in to break up any chance of an attempted shot.
An evenly played final 10 minutes of regulation resulted in overtime. It was the second overtime game for the Leopards of 2006, while it was Lehigh's fifth.
After each team exchanged chances in the opening seven minutes of overtime, Lehigh capitalized on a Lafayette handball inside the box. Mountain Hawk senior Gina Lewandowski put the ball into the lower right hand portion of the net to give Lehigh the 1-0 win.
Erdman recorded five saves on the day, while Kafka tallied one save for Lehigh.
Head Coach Mick Statham knows this one will be a tough one for his Leopard squad to swallow, but still expects a strong response.
"We have no choice but to respond on Tuesday at Penn," Statham said. "This game can be great to you and it can be cruel to you. Tonight, it was cruel to us. I thought both teams played well, and unfortunately tonight we came out on the short end."
The Leopards will look to start off October with a win, when they travel to Penn on Tuesday Oct. 3. Lafayette returns home on Friday Oct. 6 and Sunday Oct. 8 for a crucial Patriot League weekend against Colgate and defending champion Bucknell.