Members of the Women's soccer team prepare to start a drill at practice on Wednesday, September 3 2014. The team's fell to Villanova in double overtime on Sunday, September 7. (Chris Barry/B&W photo)

Women’s soccer ties Villanova in double-overtime match

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The Lehigh women’s soccer team (2-0-1) tied Villanova University (1-3-1) 1-1 after two overtimes in Sunday’s game at the Ulrich Sports Complex.

The result showed improvement for the Mountain Hawks, who have traditionally struggled in games against the Wildcats. Lehigh lost last season’s contest between the two teams 2-0 and had an all-time record of 1-7-1 against the Villanova squad coming into Sunday’s game.

Senior forward Darby Wiegand continued her standout start to the season by scoring Lehigh’s lone goal of the afternoon 13 minutes into the game. Another senior, Danielle Salans, provided the assist on the play. It marked Wiegand’s third goal in as many games.

“We got the scouting report on Villanova that the way to beat their defense was with the through ball,” Wiegand said. “Danielle spotted me right through the defense and placed the pass perfectly. It was something we’d been practicing all week.”

With 22 minutes remaining in the first half, Villanova sophomore Katie Martin tied the score at one, where it would remain for the rest of the game. Lehigh’s best chance to pull ahead came with 1:20 left in the first half when junior midfielder Katie Centeno headed a goal past Villanova goalkeeper Emily Harris. The goal was quickly taken off the board, however, due to an offside penalty.

Both teams came out strong after halftime, and Martin attempted two shots on goal within the second half’s first two minutes. Lehigh’s sophomore defender Laura Courtney, junior midfielder Madi Morgan, first-year midfielder/defender Adrian Vitello and Centeno were all also able to get shots on goal off in the second half but failed to find the back of the net. Defensively, Lehigh senior goalkeeper Ashley Blanks recorded three saves in the second half to force overtime.

The first 10-minute sudden victory overtime brought viable scoring opportunities to both teams. Villanova’s best overtime scoring chance came when Wildcat senior Caitlin Forte had a breakaway opportunity, but she kicked the ball wide of the net. Shortly after, Vitello also had a breakaway opportunity to give Lehigh a chance for the lead, but her shot on goal missed wide by inches.

Lehigh was not able to get a shot on goal in the second overtime period, but the defense was also able to hold Villanova scoreless for the final 10 minutes to earn the draw.

Overall, senior captain Blanks saved five out of six shots faced and has been impressive in her first few games. After Sunday’s performance, her save percentage is .917 and goals allowed average is 0.45.

Blanks believes that there is a lot that the team can build on after Sunday’s result.

“We hadn’t been in this situation of overtime yet, so there’s a lot that we can learn from that as far as executing our plays,” she said. “But everyone played really well today. I’m proud of the way we played.”

Head coach Eric Lambinus wished his team had come away with a victory but was also pleased with many aspects of his team’s performance.

“We’re continuing to get better as the weeks go by,” Lambinus said. “We’re playing much better soccer than we have in the past, and that gives me a lot of hope moving forward.”

Lehigh hopes to remain undefeated this week when it plays in two road matches. Friday, Sept. 12, the team travels to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph’s University, and on Sept. 14, they will face Central Connecticut State University.

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