PHILADELPHIA - After a two-game stretch without a goal, Penn regained its offensive flow on Saturday in the Big Apple with a 3-2 win over Columbia. The Quakers will need to bring that offensive firepower with them on the road once more on Tuesday (7 p.m., Ulrich Sports Complex) when the Red and Blue take on a Lehigh team that enjoys playing low-scoring affairs.
The Mountain Hawks (4-2-4, 1-1-1 Patriot) have scored just six goals while allowing only three over their ten matches in 2011. The only time either Lehigh or its opponents have scored multiple goals in a game came back on Sept/ 17 when Lehigh had two goals in a 2-0 win over St. Peter's. Other than that match, one goal has usually been enough to secure a win when Lehigh has been involved as the Mountain Hawks have three 1-0 wins and two 1-0 losses.
The dearth of goals allowed by Lehigh has the Mountain Hawks ranked right near the top among the nation's leading scoring defenses and goalkeepers. As a team, the Hawks are allowing 0.30 goals-per-game, which is sicth in the country. Sophomore Ciaran Nugent has a goals-against average of 0.27, which slots him third among Division I keepers in his first full season in goal for the Mountain Hawks.
The Quakers, on the other hand, are one of the nation's leading scoring offenses, averaging 1.82 goals-per-game. As opposed to Lehigh's once-reached season high of two goals, Penn has scored at least twice in a match on six occasions this season.
Tuesday's match is the final piece of a three-game road trip for the Quakers, a road swing which has seen Penn play well for stretches, but twice fall behind early. Last Tuesday at Penn State, the Red and Blue fell behind in the fifth minute and trailed, 2-0, at the break. Duke Lacroix had five shots for Penn, but was unable to connect on any of his chances and the Quakers saw time run out for a 2-0 loss in Happy Valley.
On Saturday, Penn was again down 2-0 in the first half, this time before even eight full minutes had run off the clock at Columbia. Perhaps inspired by the chances earned during Tuesday's unfortunate loss, Penn kept pushing back against the Lions, and senior captain Thomas Brandt scored twice before halftime to send Penn to the break back in the match at 2-2. The second half was up for grabs, with Penn carrying play early and Columbia with the edge down the stretch, but it was Christian Barreiro who struck with 44 seconds remaining to give Penn the decision, 3-2.
The Quakers hold a 30-13-2 lead in the all-time series with Lehigh, with a 2-0 win in the last meeting back in 2009. Barreiro had both goals in the win at Rhodes Field on Oct. 6, scoring in the 27th and 47th minutes for the Quakers. In 2008, Penn's last trip to Bethlehem, Lehigh scored in the 109th minute for a 2-1 win in double overtime. The two sides did not meet in 2010, but Penn was 4-0 against Patriot League schools.
Tuesday's tilt with the Mountain Hawks is Penn's final foray into non-conference play for the 2011 regular season. The Quakers are 5-3-1 outside the Ivy League in 2011, and are 2-3-0 in road non-Ivy games.