Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/21/18
From Press Release
After trailing 3-0 early, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team staged a 7-1 run to take a 7-4 lead, later breaking an 8-8 tie with five unanswered goals to lead the No. 12/14 Mountain Hawks a big 13-8 road win at No. 18/19 Hofstra on Tuesday evening.
The win marks Lehigh’s first in program history over the Pride as the Mountain Hawks improve to 7-2 on the season, picking up their third straight road victory overall, two coming against ranked opponents. Junior Andrew Pettit (Tower Hill-DE) led the offense with seven points (three goals, four assists) to tie a career high. Classmate Craig Chick tallied three caused turnovers to become the Lehigh all-time career record holder.
“I’m really proud of this team,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “We had a really slow start. It’s always tough to play Hofstra on their home field. Tough start, but we showed some resilience in the first half and then again when they made a run in the third quarter. Our guys responded really well. It’s a big win, especially after last week vs. Rutgers. I thought this would be a similar game; our guys stepped up big time.”
Pettit had a hand in seven of Lehigh’s first eight goals, helping the Mountain Hawks score the most goals this season against the nation’s No. 1 ranked scoring defense. The Pride were allowing just 6.33 goals per game. Prior to Lehigh’s 13 goals, the most goals Hofstra had allowed all season was nine to Ohio State. Hofstra entered the game on a four-game winning streak in which it allowed just 22 total goals in that span.
Each of Lehigh’s starting attackmen tallied five points or more. Along with Pettit, junior Tristan Rai recorded his second consecutive hat trick with three goals and two assists while Lucas Spence (Springfield-Delco) had two goals and three assists. Sophomore Andrew Eichelberger and senior Nolan Apers each scored twice.
“We scored in a lot of different ways and if you’re going to beat a defense like Hofstra’s, you have to do that,” said Cassese. “We loosened the reigns a little bit and found some gaps on their 6 vs. 6 defense inside the box, which is terrific. We were able to cash in, hit some low-angle shots and get some groundballs that helped lead to goals. I’m proud of the guys; they’re working hard.”
Chick’s three caused turnovers gave him 99 for his career, passing Tripp Telesco’s previous school record of 97. Freshman Teddy Leggett added four groundballs and two caused turnovers. Sophomore Conor Gaffney (Lenape) won 15-of-24 faceoffs, facing Hofstra’s Kyle Gallagher, who had won 62 percent entering the day.
“We created a lot of turnovers before they got into their settled offense because when they got into their settled offense, they were having success,” said Cassese. “Between Teddy Leggett, Craig Chick and those guys absolutely hounding them in between the restraining lines, I thought it saved us some long possessions on defense. It kept our guys fresh. What can’t be overlooked is Conor, who kept our defense fresh in the fourth quarter because we didn’t have to play a lot of defense.”
The Pride jumped out to the quick 3-0 lead and it took time for Lehigh’s offense to settle in, but the Mountain Hawks scored two goals in the final 34 seconds of the first quarter to help spark the offense – Pettit on the extra man and Rai even strength. Hofstra responded to take a 4-2 lead, but the Mountain Hawks had another answer. Pettit scored at 6:37 of the second quarter to pull Lehigh within 4-3, then Pettit found Rai for goals at 2:17 and 0:19 to give the Mountain Hawks a 5-4 halftime advantage.
Eichelberger and Spence began the third quarter with goals to give Lehigh a 7-4 lead. Later in the stanza, the Pride scored three in a row to even the score at eight, but Eichelberger netted his second with nine seconds left in the third quarter to give Lehigh a 9-8 lead.
The Mountain Hawks carried the momentum into the fourth quarter as an Austin Pierce man-up goal gave Lehigh a 10-8 lead. Apers added consecutive goals and Spence rounded out the scoring. Freshman goalkeeper James Spence made two fourth-quarter saves as the Mountain Hawks shut-out Hofstra for the game’s final 16:17.
Final shots were 31-24 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks held a 30-20 edge in groundballs. Spence finished with six saves in goal.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Saturday when they host Navy in a big Patriot League showdown. Opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m. on Service Electric 2 Sports and the Patriot League Network.