Senior forward Darby Wiegand shoots during Lehigh's game against Penn on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. Lehigh lost the game by a score of 2-0. (Emily Hu, B&W Photo)

Women’s soccer falls to Penn, remains in playoff hunt

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The Lehigh women’s soccer team, which has been winless since Oct. 8, was hoping for a win and some goals in its game against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers on Tuesday, but the Hawks ended up losing 2-0 late in the second half.

This is the third loss in a row for the Hawks, dropping the team to 2-2-4 in conference play and 4-6-5 overall.

Despite the tough loss, the Hawks remain on the Patriot League tournament bubble. The 6-5-3 UPenn team is not in the Patriot League, so the Hawks’ standing for the Patriot League tournament, which only counts in-conference results, is not hurt directly by the loss.

“It’s frustrating because for much of the game, I felt we were dominating play,” junior Paige Elliot said. “There was a momentum shift in the second half, and Penn capitalized on their opportunities. But we’re going about things the right way — working hard, playing physical (and) playing good soccer. We just need to finish our chances.”

In the opening minutes, the Quakers had a big advantage in possession, but they were unable to put the ball past junior goalie Ani Nahapetian. The Mountain Hawks jogged off the field at halftime tied at 0-0.

Lehigh had several shot opportunities, including a significant one in the 73rd minute. Freshman Adrian Vitello trapped the ball at midfield, dribbling through a few defenders. She then fired a shot from about 30 yards out. However, Terilli made the save and was able to keep the score at 0-0. Vitello had a strong opportunity to score her second goal on the season, but she and the rest of the team were all unable to add to their totals.

However, Penn sophomore Olivia Blaber’s bicycle-kick into the back of Lehigh’s net, as well as a shot into the lower left corner by the Quakers’ Anna Estep, made the score 2-0.

Terilli ended the game with seven saves, while Nahapetian had six. Lehigh had 15 shots, seven of which were on goal. The University of Pennsylvania had 16 shots, with eight of them on frame.

Nahapetian has excelled this season, but the game saw her goals allowed increase from four to six. Still, she adds to an impressive total, now having 37 saves in eight games.

“I think the game showed us that there is still room to grow,” Nahapetian said. “Coach tried a lot of different players in different positions and I think it was a learning experience for everyone. I am really excited to see what Saturday holds for us because I know we can win that game and show the rest of the Patriot League that we mean business.”

Five out of the six spots for the Patriot League tournament have been determined, but the Lehigh team aims to grab that final spot.  The top five teams in the Patriot League — Colgate University, Boston University, Navy, Army and Bucknell University — have secured spots, and the last spot is currently a fight between Lehigh and Loyola University (Maryland).

Lehigh is ahead, but it will all come down to what happens in the last game. Loyola, 2-3-3, is one point behind, but the Greyhounds will be battling Lafayette College on Saturday. That result will be relevant if Lehigh loses its Saturday game.

However, the Mountain Hawks can punch their ticket by getting a win in Worcester, Massachusetts, against ninth place the College of Holy Cross. With a loss or tie, Lehigh’s fate will be determined by the Loyola-Lafayette game. The Lehigh team would be rooting for a Leopards win in this case so the Hawks’ season could continue.

The Mountain Hawks will play Holy Cross on Saturday at 5 p.m to close the regular season.

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