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Navy goalie Kern (Salesianum) gets 18 saves, shuts door on @LehighLacrosse, 10-7

Sunday, 25th March 2018

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 3/24/18
From Press Releases

The No. 12/14 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team held the advantage in practically every statistical category, but Navy goaltender Ryan Kern (Salesianum School, Duke’s LC) made a career-high 18 saves to shut the door on every Mountain Hawks’ comeback attempt as Lehigh dropped a 10-7 final on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,178 fans at the Ulrich Sports Complex.

Navy goalie Ryan Kern (Salesianum, Duke’s LC) had 18 saves (Photo courtesy of Brent Hugo/Lehigh Athletics)

Two consecutive man-up goals from junior Andrew Pettit (Tower Hill-DE) pulled Lehigh even at four at the half, but Navy began the second half on a 3-0 run and would never trail. The loss marks Lehigh’s first Patriot League defeat of the season as the Mountain Hawks fall to 7-3 overall, 4-1 in league play.

“I thought Navy had a great game plan; they did a good job and deserved to win,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “The difference today was their goaltender. He was outstanding. He really played a full four-quarter game and made it tough for us to mount anything that would look like a comeback today.”

Lehigh’s starting attackmen each recorded three points as Pettit and junior Lucas Spence (Springfield-Delco) had two goals and an assist while classmate Tristan Rai recorded a goal and two assists. Senior Ian Strain (Episcopal Academy) finished with a goal and assist.

Defensively, junior Eddie Bouhall had six groundballs and four caused turnovers to eclipse 50 caused turnovers in his career, while Craig Chick scored his second goal of the season and added four groundballs and four caused turnovers. Sophomore Conor Gaffney (Lenape-NJ) was stellar facing off, winning 13-of-21 on the day against Navy’s Joe Varello, who entered the day winning 63.2 percent of his draws on the day.

“Our guys battled hard,” said Cassese. “They were resilient. This was our fifth game in 15 days and I thought they left it all out on the field. I’m proud of them for doing that.”

Navy jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 5:03 into the game before Strain scored his first of the season at the 6:52 mark. The teams traded goals until late in the second quarter when Pettit and the Mountain Hawks scored twice on a nonreleasable Navy penalty, at the 2:50 and 2:04 marks, to pull Lehigh even at 4-4 at the half.

The Midshipmen began the third quarter on a 3-0 run before Chick and Spence scored in the span of 1:08. Lehigh attempted to pull even in the final minute, but Bouhall’s shot was saved by Kern, leading to a transition goal on the other end as Navy took an 8-6 lead into the fourth.

Kern made his 14th save on the play and sent a long outlet pass to mid-field. Daniel found an open Dave Little (Sr / Vienna, Va.) to give the Mids an 8-6 lead after three quarters of play.

“I saw Christian calling for the ball and so I threw the ball down field and he and Dave (Little) did the rest,” said Kern.

That advantage swelled to 10-6 with 3:59 remaining in the fourth quarter. Rai scored just 13 seconds later and Lehigh won the ensuing faceoff looking to pull even closer, but Kern made his 17th stop of the afternoon on sophomore Eichelberger, all but ending the Mountain Hawks’ hopes of a comeback.

Kern was easily the MVP of the game, bettering his previous high of 17 saves against Army a year ago.

“I took a different approach to today’s game,” said Kern, who came into the game with a 46.3 save percentage. “Instead of getting amped up, I tried to stay level headed throughout the game and just focused on the ball.”

“It was good to see Ryan get a little bit of a reward for playing a phenomenal game today,” said Sowell.

Lehigh was held to a season-low tying seven goals after entering the game ranked 12th nationally with its 12.22 goals per game average. Five players accounted for the seven goals, including a pair by Pettit who came into the game ranked 16th nationally in goals per game (2.78) and 18th in points per game (4.67).

“It was a collective effort by our defense today, very similar to how we played against Bucknell,” added Sowell. “Whenever you get 18 saves from your goalkeeper, it certainly helps cover up any missteps you’ve made along the way.”

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