WEST POINT, N.Y. - Lehigh's Liz Carlos' goal in the 76th minute snapped a scoreless tie, and the No. 3 seeded Mountain Hawks (11-4-4) made that stand in a 1-0 upset win over top-seeded Army (14-4-3) in the championship game of the Patriot League Women's Soccer Tournament Sunday afternoon at Clinton Field. Lehigh captured its first-ever title along with earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Army seniors Carlie Turnnidge and Alex Lostetter, along with freshman Molly McGuigan, were named to the all-tournament team, while Lehigh goalkeeper Lauren Mains, who recorded 13 saves posting a pair of shutout wins in the tournament, was named the MVP.
The loss snapped Army's nine-game unbeaten streak as the Black Knights yielded just their sixth goal in 21 games this season along with recording 14 wins, their most since compiling 16 in 1997. Lostetter, who closed out her career as Army's shutout leader and tied on the league's all-time chart with 31, recorded three saves in the loss. She made a spectacular stop in the 68th minute in rejecting a shot by Lehigh's Lena Cannon headed toward the left corner of the goal.
Fifteen minutes earlier, Army junior forward Erringer Helbling had the goalkeeper beat when she took a 20 yard toward the right corner of the net, but instead of curling in, the ball hit the post instead and bounced harmlessly away.
Carolos, a two-time all-league first team pick, lifted Lehigh to the victory when she converted a cross from Genna Pepe into the left corner of the net from five yards at the 75:32 mark for her seventh tally of the season.
The Black Knights' next three shots were on goal trying to notch the equalizer, but came up short with Mains pulling up with two of the saves along with a defensive stop by Jana Basubas on McGuigan's header off of Deanna Clegg's corner kick in the 84th minute Mains was called upon to make a stop just 15 seconds later on an attempt by Kim An, the league's rookie of the year, in finishing with four of her five saves in the second half. The Black Knights outshot Lehigh 15-8, including an 11-5 margin in the second half, while the Mountain Hawks held a 3-1 corner kick advantage.
"I thought it was a great game and that both teams played very well," commented Stefanie Golan, the league's coach of the year. "I felt Lehigh was one of the best teams consistently in the league throughout the year. Since it is not us representing the Patriot League at the NCAA Tournament, I am glad that Lehigh is and they will do well.
"Soccer is a funny game. Some days the bounces will go your way and other days they aren't. I though at the end of the day, a 1-0 result either way would be a fair one. I told the players not to hang their heads, and I am not going to hand my head either, because what we accomplished during the course of the season has been unbelievable considering where everyone expected us to be. I am proud of the team, our staff and being able to represent Army.
"My heart bleeds for our seniors who have put everything they can into helping us be where we are right now. They worked extremely hard
to help turn the program into what we want it to be, and we will continue to move forward.
The game was the final for Lostetter, a two-time conference all-star, who needed just one more shutout to become the league's all-time leader.
"It was an amazing season," said Lostetter. "I have no doubt this group will win the title next year. I think our senior class left a mark and it is going to go up from here. As much of the disappointment of not wining today, we were co-regular-season champions.
NOTE: It is the sixth time in Patriot League history that the No. 3 seed has won the tournament, and the last team to do that was Army in 2008 when it upset top-seeded Navy ... Army closed out the year with 14 wins, a school record 16 shutouts, co-shared the Patriot League regular-season title with Bucknell after being picked seventh in the preseason poll, and hosted the tournament for the fourth time ... Black Knights claimed fifth conference regular-season title (second time it shared along with winning it outright three other times) ... Army reached the tournament finals for the ninth time ... it was the final game for four seniors - Alex Lostetter, Kelley Robbins, Carlie Turnnidge and Candice Bryan, who led the Black Knights to a Patriot League title and three postseason tournament appearances.
Army Carlie Turnnidge, Alex Lostetter, Molly McGuigan
Leigh Lauren Mains (MVP), Natalie Hojnacki, Liz Carlos, Lena Cannon
Bucknell Amanda Citron, Brooke Stokes
Colgate Calista Victor, Kiki Koroshetz