Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/27/16
From Press Release
Trailing 11-9 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team scored the game’s final three goals to defeat visiting Holy Cross, 12-11 in the Patriot League opener for both sides on Saturday afternoon. The win marked Lehigh’s sixth straight in league openers.
Junior Matt Raposo led the Mountain Hawks’ offense with a career-high six points behind two goals and a career-high four assists.
“Welcome to the Patriot League,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “That’s what we expect every single time, a one-goal game. It was an absolute battle, a dogfight. Holy Cross played exceptionally well. I really want to tip my cap to Holy Cross and to Judd Lattimore and his staff for getting his guys ready on short rest. They played a double overtime game on Tuesday and they showed no signs of it today. I’m really impressed with their group. They’re making a lot of strides.”
Trailing by two, freshman Tristan Rai corralled a groundball behind the goal and found senior Ray Mastroianni in front of the net. Mastroianni promptly scored his second goal of the season to pull Lehigh within 11-10 with 8:24 remaining. Rai added his third goal of the game at the 6:20 mark on a highlight-reel behind-the-back goal and senior Billy Oppenheimer (Germantown Academy) scored with 4:42 remaining to give Lehigh the 12-11 advantage.
Rai finished with four or more points for a fourth straight game, posting three goals and two assists, his fourth consecutive hat trick to begin his career. Senior Reid Weber (Germantown Academy) added four points (one goal, three assists) while seniors Oppenheimer and Alex Eaton each scored twice.
“I don’t think we had our best day offensively,” said Cassese. “We didn’t play exceptionally well. A lot of it had to do with the Holy Cross defense and their goaltender, who stood on his head today. He was outstanding. He really frustrated us and forced us to do some things that were really out of character for us, but when it mattered the most, our attack showed up for us in the fourth quarter. We got the job done and I give them a lot of credit, but we have to be better offensively.”
Freshman Eddie Bouhall led the Lehigh defense with four groundballs and a career-high three caused turnovers while senior Tripp Telesco had two groundballs and three caused turnovers.
Raposo opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at the 11:58 mark of the first quarter. Just over a minute later, Rai scored off a nifty feed from Weber to give the Mountain Hawks a 2-0 advantage. After a Holy Cross goal, the Mountain Hawks answered with two straight tallies, from junior Ian Strain and Oppenheimer, to take a 4-1 lead with 2:23 remaining in the first quarter.
The Crusaders responded with three straight goals and four of the next five, pulling within 4-3 after 15 minutes of play then tying the score at 12:07 of the second quarter. Weber ended the run with a goal off an assist from Raposo. Raposo then dished his career-high third assist with 53 seconds remaining as Eaton scored to give the Mountain Hawks a 6-5 halftime lead.
Holy Cross quickly evened the score less than one minute into the third quarter, but Eaton responded with a man-up goal less than a minute later. The teams went back-and-forth over most of the quarter as Rai and Raposo scored at 10:28 and 8:43, respectively, to give Lehigh a 9-7 advantage. However, from there, the Crusaders began a 4-0 run to turn a 9-7 Lehigh lead into an 11-9 Crusaders’ advantage with 9:07 on the clock, setting the stage for the Mountain Hawks’ comeback.
Final shots were 39-27 in favor of the Mountain Hawks while Lehigh held a 31-29 edge in groundballs. Sophomore Matt Ernst won 16-of-26 faceoffs with six groundballs in a strong performance at the X. The 16 faceoff wins tied a career high, set last season at Holy Cross.
“The game plan for us was to try and win the possession battle. That’s what Patriot League lacrosse is all about and at the end of the day I thought we did that,” said Cassese. “Matt Ernst showed up big. We’ve been struggling at the faceoff dot and to get that type of performance for him, plus our wing play. That was huge for us today.”
Sophomore Adam Sawicki made six saves in goal, across Holy Cross goalie Michael Ortlieb, who made 14.
“Holy Cross did what they wanted to do against us for most of the day,” said Cassese. “We had to find little cracks in their armor here and there. Fortunately, we were able to find one more than they did. I give them a lot of credit. They did some things that really forced us to play out of character.”
The Mountain Hawks remain home next Saturday for another big Patriot League matchup when they host Colgate at 12 p.m.
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