Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/6/16
From Press Release
The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team jumped out to a 16-2 halftime lead on its way to a convincing 21-4 season-opening victory over NJIT on Saturday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
Freshman Tristan Rai paced the offense with five first-half goals while Senior Alex Eaton set a career high with four goals and six points. The 21 goals marked Lehigh’s most since a 21-9 win at Detroit Mercy on Mar. 15, 2010 while Saturday was the Mountain Hawks’ largest margin of victory since a 22-3 win over VMI on Apr. 17, 1999.
“It’s good to win and great to be 1-0,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “It’s something we didn’t do last year, so we feel like we’re off to a better start. It was a good team win. We came out and guys were ready to play. We had good energy, which was important.”
Rai and Eaton had plenty of help. Junior Matt Raposo recorded his first-career hat trick, tallying career highs in goals (3) and points (5) while tying a career high in assists (2). Sophomore John Mehok (Bishop Shanahan) scored his first two career goals while senior Reid Weber (Germantown Academy) tallied two goals and two assists.
In total, six different freshmen recorded at least one point, with five scoring goals: Rai (five goals), Andrew Pettit (Tower Hill, one goal, one assist), Lucas Spence (Springfield-Delco, one goal), Mickey Fitzpatrick (one goal), Jackson Monnin (one goal) and William Gunn (one assist)
Senior Tripp Telesco enjoyed a big day on the defensive end, tallying two goals and three assists. Freshman Craig Chick had a game-high four caused turnovers to go with four groundballs.
“Offensively, I thought we did a good job,” said Cassese. “We shared the ball. Defensively, we were okay at the start. I didn’t feel like we were moving the way we should, but those guys settled in as we got going. Overall, it was a good team win for us today.”
The Mountain Hawks came out with a vengeance, taking a 6-0 lead before the game was nine minutes old. Three of the goals were scored by Rai, including a highlight-reel behind-the-back goal that gave Lehigh a 4-0 advantage with 8:11 left in the first quarter.
NJIT pulled within 6-1 with 5:06 on the first-quarter clock, but the Mountain Hawks stormed back with 10 of the next 11 goals, including an 8-0 edge in the second quarter. Eaton began the run with 3:49 on the first-quarter clock, then went on to score two straight in the second quarter, at 11:24 and 6:14, to give Lehigh an 11-2 advantage. Rai followed with his fourth and fifth goals of the game, then sophomore Nolan Apers, Weber and Eaton rounded out the first-half scoring as Lehigh took a 16-2 lead at the half.
The Highlanders opened the scoring in the third quarter, but the Mountain Hawks answered with the next four, from Fitzpatrick, Mehok (twice) and Spence. The teams traded goals in the fourth quarter, wrapping up the 21-4 final.
The Mountain Hawks were able to clear their bench in the third and fourth quarters, giving many players valuable minutes.
“Anytime we can get live situations where we can get a lot of our players in and evaluate them is critical right now,” said Cassese. “We have a logjam on offense; we have a lot of talented players and a lot of them are young and inexperienced. To get them some live game minutes and get some film on them was critical.”
Final shots were 49-14 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks held a 32-26 edge in groundballs. A trio of Lehigh goaltenders combined for six saves. Junior Casey McAdam finished 11-of-21 from the faceoff X. Lehigh was 5-of-6 on the extra man.
The Mountain Hawks now hit the road next weekend when they head to No. 3 Duke to face the Blue Devils. Cassese was an All-American in his collegiate career at Duke. Opening faceoff on Sunday is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN3.
“Going back to my old stomping grounds, it will be fun because it’s familiar territory, but at the end of the day, it’s just the next game on the schedule and we have to treat it as such,” said Cassese. “I don’t think our guys care where I went to school. They care about how I coach them, and I’m going to focus on that this week.”
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