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Sopko (@Stoga_Lax) helps Bucknell topple @LehighLacrosse; Patriot League playoffs set

Saturday, 21st April 2018

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 4/21/18
From Press Release

The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team scored three straight first-half goals to take a 5-3 lead, but No. 11/12 Bucknell answered with a pair of 5-0 runs separated by an Ian Strain goal, to pull away, 14-7 on Friday evening in the regular season finale for both teams. With the loss, Lehigh falls to 8-6, 5-3 in Patriot League play. The Mountain Hawks will be the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament and will host fifth-seeded Colgate in the quarterfinals this Tuesday at 7 p.m.

No. 11/12 Bucknell (11-3, 7-1 Patriot League) clinched a share of the Patriot League regular-season title with a 14-7 rout of rival Lehigh on Friday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Bucknell, which shared the 2018 Patriot League regular-season crown with No. 16/14 Navy and No. 6/8 Loyola, will host Boston University on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals. The Bison ended up with the third seed due to the goal differential between the three co-champions.

“I want to give Bucknell credit,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “We had it tight there for a good portion of the game and I thought the third quarter was really the difference. Their seniors played really well. Will Sands, Sean O’Brien, O’Hara, Gilray and guys like that came to play today and they were the difference in the game.”

Junior Lucas Spence (Springfield-Delco) led the Lehigh offense with four points behind two goals and two assists as he continued his streak of multiple points in every game this season. Senior Nolan Apers tied a career-high two goals while senior Ian Strain (Episcopal Academy), junior Andrew Pettit (Toeer Hill-DE) and sophomore Ryan Klose scored the others. Sophomore Conor Gaffney (Lenape-NJ) continued his strong play in the faceoff circle, winning 14-of-21 draws with three groundballs.

The loss snapped Lehigh’s four-game road winning streak.

Freshman attackman Tommy Sopko (Conestoga) had a goal, an assist and two caused turnovers for the Bison.

Bucknell scored first, but goals from Spence and Pettit, separated by 6:47, gave Lehigh its first lead at 2-1 late in the first quarter. After the Bison netted the next two, Apers scored at 13:38 of the second quarter before Spence scored on the extra man, Lehigh’s eighth straight success man-up opportunity and 16th in its last 19 tries.

Less than two minutes later, Apers added his second in the span of 3:29 to give the Mountain Hawks a 5-3 advantage. However, the Bison reeled off the next five goals with the first four assisted by Will Sands, who finished with seven helpers on the evening. Strain added a big goal with just one second remaining in the quarter to pull Lehigh within 8-6 after 30 minutes of play.

The Bison erased much doubt by opening the second half on a 5-0 run. Bucknell outscored Lehigh 2-0 in the third quarter, but created separation with goals at 14:22, 7:07 and 5:15 of the fourth. Klose scored his second of the season at 1:45 to end Lehigh’s 28:16 scoreless drought, but Bucknell scored its final goal at the 1:07 mark to account for the 14-7 final.

Bucknell finished with a 43-25 edge in shots and 33-23 advantage in groundballs. Three Lehigh goalies combined for six saves, led by five stops from freshman James Spence (Springfield-Delco).

The Mountain Hawks will now host a Patriot League Quarterfinal game for the first time since 2014 when it hosts Colgate on Tuesday (Apr. 24) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $4 for students, Lehigh faculty/staff, seniors (65+) and children (2-18). Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking here. The first 50 Lehigh students on Tuesday night are admitted for FREE.

“We need to get back on the winning track,” said Cassese. “We’ve played three top 15 opponents in a row here and they’ve exposed what we do. We need to get back to the drawing board here before Tuesday and try to get back in the win column. We’re thankful to be home and thankful for another opportunity to play. Like we always do, we’re going to try and get better, and come out and attack on Tuesday night.”

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