Nov. 3, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army men's soccer team will wrap up its regular-season schedule on Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Black Knights travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to face Patriot League rival Lehigh. Kickoff for the crucial conference contest is slated for 7 p.m.
A live video broadcast of Saturday's tilt will be available via Lehigh's official athletics web site (www.lehighsports.com). Live stats for the contest will also be offered by the Mountain Hawks' web site.
After playing Lafayette to a scoreless draw last Sunday, Army (7-9-1, 2-3-1 PL) remains in contention to earn a berth into the Patriot League Tournament. The Black Knights need to defeat Lehigh on Saturday night and get some help to qualify for the conference tournament for the first time since 1996.
In order for Army to sneak into the postseason, the Black Knights also need Bucknell to tie or defeat Lafayette and Navy to tie or defeat Colgate.
A win over Lehigh would give Army its third league victory of the season, its most since 2006. A victory on Saturday would also provide the Black Knights their first road win against a Patriot League school since knocking off Navy in Annapolis, Md., in 2007. The seven points that Army has accumulated in the Patriot League so far are the most since the conference adopted the points system in 2007.
Army is riding a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) as the Black Knights prepare to play their most significant November match in recent memory. Army began its unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory over Bucknell on Oct. 22. The Black Knights then posted a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Adelphi on Oct. 26, before tying Lafayette, 0-0, last Sunday.
Junior Josh Koeppe continues to lead Army in several offensive categories, topping the Black Knights in goals (four), points (10), shots (37) and game-winning goals (two). Koeppe also ranks tied for second on the team with two assists.
Junior Trent Brown is second on the team with three goals and eight points, while freshman Elliott McGilbra ranks third on the squad with seven points (two goals, three assists).
Freshman Winston Boldt, who posted his first career shutout in Army's 0-0 draw versus Lafayette last weekend, has been impressive since being inserted into the starting lineup two weeks ago. The rookie keeper enters Saturday's tilt at Lehigh boasting a 1.13 goals-against average and a .792 save percentage.
Lehigh (7-4-5, 3-2-1 PL) had a four-game unbeaten streak snapped last Saturday when the Mountain Hawks dropped a heart-breaking 1-0 decision at American. The Eagles scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation to pick up the victory and secure a spot in the Patriot League Tournament.
Lehigh, which is coming off a 2-0 setback at Princeton on Tuesday night, enters the final weekend of league play tied with Navy for third place in the conference standings. The Mountain Hawks can clinch a berth into the Patriot League Tournament with a win over Army.
Lehigh is led by an incredibly stingy defense, which carries a microscopic 0.46 goals-against average into Saturday's match versus Army. Lehigh has allowed just three goals in Patriot League matches, while posting three shutouts versus conference foes.
The Mountain Hawks' defense is backstopped by sophomore goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent, who leads the Patriot League in goals-against average (0.47) and lists second in the conference in save percentage (.884). Nugent also tops the league with nine shutouts.
Seniors Joe Puleo, Neal Melchionni and Kevin Strunk pace Lehigh's offense with three goals and seven points each. Fellow senior Daniel Odenwelder, meanwhile, tops the squad with two assists. The Mountain Hawks are averaging exactly one goal per match, having tallied 16 goals in 16 games this season.
Army and Lehigh have locked horns 41 times previously in a series that dates back to in 1922. The Black Knights hold a slim 19-17-5 lead in the all-time series, but the Mountain Hawks have held the upper hand in recent years. Lehigh has compiled a 13-0-1 record versus Army over the last 14 years, outscoring the Black Knights by a 30-3 margin in those contests. Army's last victory over Lehigh came in 1996 when the Black Knights posted a 3-1 win en route to the Patriot League title.