BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Freshman Sarah Bresette scored the tying goal in the second half and the game-winner in overtime, lifting the Bucknell women’s soccer team to a stirring 3-2 road win over Lehigh in a Patriot League match Friday night at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Evelyn Nicinski scored a goal in her first game back from an international hiatus, and Liz Dwornik handed out three assists as the Bison stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to pick up three key points in the league standings.
Lehigh stunned the Bison with two goals in the first 16 minutes of the game. Just 4:39 in, Katie Centeno spun back to her left foot at the top of the D and arced a high shot into the back of the net. Then it was Laura Courtney lobbing a bouncing ball over the head of charging goalkeeper Jessie Ashworth for a 2-0 lead.
Bucknell had a mountain to climb in the second half, down two goals on the road, but the Bison amped up the pressure coming out of the locker room. They outshot Lehigh 15-7 in the second half of regulation and generated plenty of scoring opportunities. After the Mountain Hawks went up 2-0, the Bison conceded only one more shot on goal the rest of the way.
The Bison registered that all-important first goal in the 57th minute. A Lehigh defender, dealing with pressure from Bresette, had to put the ball out of bounds on the right side. Cassie Denger’s throw-in went to Dwornik at the edge of the box. Dwornik tapped the ball back to Denger, whose service from the end line was finished by Nicinski with a terrific running header in traffic.
Nicinski just returned to the team after a two-game absence while competing with the Polish national team in World Cup qualifying in Europe. The goal was her second of the season, with the other coming in an August win at Mount St. Mary’s.
Just over six minutes later the Bison found the equalizer through Bresette. Another first-year player, left back Montana Paley, set up the scoring sequence with a strong tackle near midfield. She sent the ball ahead to Chelsey Garkowski down the left wing, and her centering pass found Dwornik near the top of the 18. Dwornik took a shot that was deflected by a defender, but Bresette corralled the loose ball just inside the box and slotted a precise shot just inside the right post.
Bucknell nearly found a go-ahead goal on a corner kick sequence with about 14 minutes left in regulation. Lauren Dandie had a shot cleared off the line by a defender – the second time in the match that a Lehigh back was on the line to save a goal. After the Mountain Hawks cleared, Paley stepped into a shot from about 35 yards out that beat the keeper but struck the crossbar.
Just six days after dropping their Patriot League opener to Army in overtime, and one year after falling to Lehigh in sudden death on this very field, the Bison turned the tables 6:15 into the extra period.
Freshman Alexis Gannon passed to Dwornik in the center of the field, and just before being knocked to the turf Dwornik sent a perfectly weighted lead pass ahead for Bresette. The first-year forward took a couple of touches along the right flank before driving another hard, accurate shot into the far side setting.
For Bresette, it was her first collegiate golden goal and her first multi-goal game. Dwornik’s three assists were a career high, and it was the first three-assist game by a Bucknell player since Courtney Nelson had three against Canisius last season.
For the Bison it was their first come-from-behind win since late in the 2011 season, when they rallied to beat Lafayette 2-1 in overtime at Emmitt Field. This was the first time under ninth-year head coach Ben Landis that the Bison have come from two goals down to win.
“I am really happy with the belief that the entire team showed,” said Landis. “We gave up two early goals, but we never lost our composure. I thought Chelsey Garkowski and Evelyn Nicinski were both unbelievable tonight. They were the leaders that got us back in it. This might have been the best game Chelsey has played where she didn’t score a point. The subs came on and did very well, and all three goals were top-shelf.”
Bucknell finished with a 22-11 shot advantage, led by five shots from Nicinski, one of which was knocked off the line by a defender in the first half. Ashworth tallied one save, while Lehigh’s Ani Nahapetian stopped six.
The Bison return home on Wednesday to face Patriot League newcomer Loyola at 7 p.m. at Emmitt Field.