The Penn men's soccer team has enjoyed life at home so far this year. On the soft, green expanse of Rhodes Field, with the gentle hum of passing traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway, it has been anything but idyllic for opponents of the Red and Blue, as the Quakers had raced out to a 4-0-1 record on its own turf -- before yesterday, that is. Yesterday, a hot Lehigh team changed all that, defeating Penn 2-1 for the Engineers' fifth win in their last seven games. "I think we're a better team," Penn goalkeeper Jeff Groeber said. "But we just didn't have it today, and they came away with a win." After a sluggish first half that ended with the two sides knotted without a score, the Quakers (5-6-1) came out of the halftime break with less emotion than the visitors, whose work paid off with two goals before Penn finally got on the board in the 83rd minute. "It was a bit of a dead game in the first 45 minutes, with neither team taking the upper hand," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "We almost felt like the 45 minutes weren't even played." Lehigh's intensity, described by coach Dean Koski as "casual" in the first half, picked up markedly after the break, while Penn's did not. As a result, the Engineers (9-3-2) got on the board first, reaching the back of the net in the 66th minute as sophomore forward Evan Bruno scored his 15th goal of the year when he broke away and slipped a shot between Groeber and the near-side post. "I was coming over to the ball, and it skipped up, and I got caught in between," Penn captain Henry Chen said. "It was kind of my fault." Bruno had come close earlier, missing on the best opportunity of the first half for either team when he beat Groeber but bounced his attempt wide to the right. Lehigh's second goal came in the 77th minute, in a similar situation where the Engineers developed an opportunity in transition. For most of the afternoon, Lehigh's offense depended not on pecking away in the Penn defensive area, but on counterpunching. "We really talked at halftime about how they were going to get goals," Fuller said. "It was exactly that -- they'd take it out of their own box and get a ball coming back right behind us." The Engineers' second quick-strike goal moved quickly up the field from spirited midfielder Colin Marshall to fellow middie Matt Weick and finally to Doug Cusick, who headed it home over a leaping Groeber for his 10th goal of the season. Cusick, a freshman, was one of the few on the field whose effort was unmistakably evident for all 90 minutes. His inspired, fearless play had nearly paid off in both the 17th and the 59th minutes. He was rightfully jubilant upon striking what looked to be the death blow with a shade under 14 minutes to go in the game. "At half, coach said both teams didn't seem to want to play," Chen said. "It wasn't until their second goal that we played with some urgency." But after that second goal, the Quakers displayed why they thought they were the better team coming in. The Red and Blue dictated the action between the increasingly more frequent raindrops, finally cashing in when Alex Maasry directed Chen's corner kick into the net to break up Engineers goalie Michael Buckler's run at a clean sheet in the freshman's first career start. The Quakers kept up the pressure in the final seven minutes, but were unable to work their Rhodes Field magic for an equalizer. The Lehigh defense did not break again. Penn's only other true scoring opportunities came within the first 15 minutes of the game. Evan Anderson knuckled a shot into Buckler's hands off a nice feed from Maasry in the sixth minute, and was barely blocked by Buckler on an attempt to redirect a Chen corner nine minutes later. News and Notes Penn forward Sam Chamovitz, who transferred from Bucknell before this season, did not suit up to face his former Patriot League rival because he was under the weather... Penn's last loss at Rhodes Field was on November 6, 1999, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Princeton.Comments powered by Disqus
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