It was all smiles for the Mountain Hawks at halftime. A six-goal lead over Rutgers University quickly became seven as the second half kicked off. But from that point forward, Lehigh’s struggles led to an uneasy win for the team.
In the final 17 minutes, the Mountain Hawks (9-2, 3-1 Patriot) frantically ran back and forth, exchanging quality chances on opposite sides of the field with the Scarlet Knights (3-9). Both sides were given free position opportunities. The teams combined for 12 shots.
But those 17 minutes featured zero goals, leaving Lehigh’s 9-5 lead intact as it defeated Rutgers at the Ulrich Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
“We tried to push the fast break, but we were rushed more than fast,” junior attacker Allison LaBeau said.
Because of the pace of the game, it was up to junior goalie Taylor Tvedt to bail out her defense on many occasions. She ended with eight saves, including six in the second half.
Running down the left side, a Rutgers attacker had a clear one-on-one opportunity to with Tvedt to make it a three goal game with 16:48 left. But the sure goal was robbed as Lehigh’s goalie stuck out her left leg, making a miraculous save.
“Coming into the second half we were in a little bit of a lull,” Tvedt said. “Once I made that big save, I mentally turned it back on and continued to make saves.”
Rutgers goalie Joanna Reilly had five second half saves of her own, contributing to the scoreless final stretch as well.
“We just tried to remind our team that we still had a four-goal lead and that there’s no reason to panic,” Lehigh coach Jill Redfern said.
However, Redfern’s team had trouble keeping up the performance it had been able to execute well in the first half.
“Some of it was a mental thing, we have the intention to keep up our lead and keep on scoring,” LaBeau said. But some of it is physical, everyone gets tired.”
The first half explosion for Lehigh was led by sophomore attacker Haley Wentzel, who netted a hat trick before the first 30 minutes came to a close. LaBeau, who has been having a stellar season now featuring over 50 points, assisted two of them and added a couple of goals herself.
The win marked the final non-conference game for the Mountain Hawks. Entering the most important stretch of their schedule, they carry a 9-2 record.
But moving forward, their biggest issue will continue to be consistency.
“Being able to string a top performance that we had in all 60 minutes,” Redfern said, “I think we can win our conference.”