Lehigh boys soccer team wins league title
For the third time in program history, the Lehigh men’s soccer team has won the Patriot League Men’s Soccer Championship, defeating rival Lafayette, 1-0 Saturday night at the Ulrich Sports Complex in front of a packed crowd of 1,705 people. After finishing the regular season with an unblemished 6-0-3 record, the Mountain Hawks head into the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 13-4-3, the team’s most wins since 2015 when they won the title for the second time.
“I’m so happy for the team, certainly they have earned the privilege of being here and they earned the win tonight,” said head coach Dean Koski. “I couldn’t be happier for them, this is a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of these guys and it secures their legacy of certainly one of the best seasons we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The Mountain Hawks had the first five shots of the game including a Stevo Bednarsky shot in the sixth minute that was saved by Alex Sutton. Natan Rosen had his shot saved in the 27th minute and Josh Luchini had a shot that was saved in the 34th minute. Two more shots went high in the final six minutes and Lehigh finished the first half with a 10-5 advantage in shots. Will Smith made three key saves in the first half to keep the score knotted at zero after the first 45 minutes.
Coming right out of the locker room the Mountain Hawks had two shots early before the chance of the game occurred. Sophomore forward Michael Tahiru was the game’s hero early on with his game-winning goal in the 54th minute, off a great pass from Trevor Koski that found the back of the net, giving the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 lead. Tahiru’s goal was his third of the season and Koski’s assist was his fifth of the year.
Senior goalkeeper Will Smith made six saves en route to his career-best 10th shutout of the season, the 25th of his career.
The biggest advantage for Lehigh on Saturday night was the crowd, the unofficially largest men’s soccer crowd in the history of the program. At 1,705 people, it was the most since Lehigh’s NCAA Tournament matchup vs. Rhode Island.
After clinching the program’s third Patriot League Tournament championship on Saturday night against archrival Lafayette in a 1-0 shutout, the Lehigh men’s soccer team has learned its fate for the NCAA Tournament first round after meeting and watching the NCAA Selection Show as a team earlier Monday.
The Mountain Hawks will visit and take on Pittsburgh of the ACC on Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Panthers are in the tournament for the first time since 1965 after accumulating an overall record of 9-7-2 and 4-3-1 in the ACC, falling to Clemson, 1-0 in the semifinal round.