Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/27/14
From Press Release
The third-seeded and #18 nationally-ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team took a 1-0 lead in the early going and had several chances to make it more, but #1 Loyola responded in a big way, using runs of 6-0 (in the first half) and 8-1 (in the second half) on its way to a 16-7 victory in the Patriot League Championship Game on Sunday.
Junior Dan Taylor posted four points to end the season with a league-leading 76 while classmate Matt Poillon made 14 saves in goal – including 11 in the first half – to keep Lehigh within striking distance.
“I’m really proud of our guys. I thought our effort was great,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese whose Mountain Hawks posted 13 wins this season (to just five losses) after a program-record 14 wins in 2012 and 12 victories last year. “We had a good start, but in the end, Loyola is a really good team. They’re #1 in the country for a reason. They made plays when the game was being decided and we didn’t come up with enough of those plays today.”
Lehigh ends its season with a 13-5 record as the Mountain Hawks fell just one shy of tying a school record of 14 wins set in 2012. Lehigh has posted a 39-13 record over the past four seasons, qualifying for four straight Patriot League Tournaments and three straight league title games.
After Lehigh controlled play in the early going, Tyler Albrecht got Loyola on the scoreboard at 7:10 of the first quarter. That started a run of six straight Greyhounds goals. Late in the second quarter, the Mountain Hawks scored twice in 29 seconds to get back within three (6-3). Taylor scored on a delayed penalty then junior Dylan O’Shaughnessy added the extra-man goal to get Lehigh back in the game with 2:30 left in the first half. The Greyhounds Brian Schultz scored with just 13 seconds left in the first half to make it 7-3 after 30 minutes of play.
Lehigh came out of the locker room with an answer as junior Kurtis Kaunas scored his 20th goal of the season just 1:13 into the third quarter to pull within 7-4. The Mountain Hawks had chances to pull closer, but an extra man goal by the Greyhounds at the 9:34 mark started an 8-1 Loyola run.
The Mountain Hawks scored two of the game’s final three goals, as junior Patrick Corbett scored his third and Taylor added his second, for the 16-7 final.
Nikko Pontrello (St. Augustine Prep) had two goals and two assists for Loyola.
Corbett posted his 10th-career hat trick in the loss while Taylor tallied his eighth straight multi-goal game. He finished the season with 48 points over his final eight games.
Defensively, senior Jimmy Cahill posted a career-high six groundballs to go with two caused turnovers. Classmate Ty Souders (Emmaus) scooped four groundballs and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team (along with Taylor and Poillon). Senior Ryan Buttenbaum (Conestoga) impressed at the faceoff X, winning 15-of-27 with 12 groundballs.
The goaltenders combined to make 31 saves as Loyola’s Jack Runkel stopped 15 and was named Patriot League Tournament MVP.
“The entire Loyola defense had a good game plan,” said Taylor. “They played us incredibly tough. They’re great one-on-one defenders. We weren’t able to hit the shots we had. Give credit to Runkel; he played a very impressive game. It was a tough game for us. We were getting our looks, but we didn’t make them count in the end.”
Lehigh finishes its season winners of seven of its last nine games to surpass last year’s win total and pull within one of the school record.
“The thing I’ll remember most about this season is the way we finished,” said Cassese. “The second half of our season was really strong. I give a lot of credit to our upperclassmen, our seniors in particular and also our junior class. They really carried us down the stretch. Unfortunately, we have to move on from our seniors, but we have a lot coming back next year. There’s a lot of promise and a lot to build on. We look forward to getting to work on that, starting tomorrow.”
“A lot of people wrote us out and thought with the departure of some top players, that we would fall back into irrelevance,” said Taylor. “I’m really proud of my teammates, especially our seniors, who rallied our troops and forced us to play as a 45-man unit, not just 10 guys on the field. I don’t think this year is something to be ashamed of at all. This isn’t the end of Lehigh Lacrosse.”