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Spence brothers, Pettit, Gaffney lead @LehighLacrosse to Patriot League win

Saturday, 24th February 2018

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 2/24/18
From Press Release

Junior Lucas Spence (Springfield-Delco) led the offense with a career-high six goals and seven points, while classmate Andrew Pettit (Tower Hill-DE) added a career-high tying seven points as well to help lead the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team to a convincing 15-4 Patriot League opening victory over Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon.

The defense stood tall, allowing just two goals over the game’s first 51:03 as a trio of Mountain Hawks’ goaltenders made 11 saves, led by freshman James Spence (Springfield-Delco). The 11-goal win marks Lehigh’s largest margin of victory in a Patriot League opener since 2001.

“Our guys were really ready to play today,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “I thought the defense in particular was phenomenal. We had been really focused all week on trying to figure out our slow starts. We’ve given up a lot of goals in the first quarter, so that was a huge point of emphasis in practice this week and in film. For the guys to execute and give up zero in the first quarter was absolutely huge.”

Spence’s six goals and seven points shattered his previous career high of four in both categories. Pettit tied his career high with seven points behind two goals and a career-high five assists. Classmate Tristan Rai finished with two goals and an assist to reach exactly 100 career points. Five other Mountain Hawks scored a single goal, including the first-career tallies from freshman Teddy Leggett and sophomore Crew Cintron, and first goals of the season from juniors Craig Chick and Jackson Monnin. Sophomore Austin Clibanoff (La Salle) recorded his first-career point, an assist, in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, Chick had five groundballs and three caused turnovers while fellow junior Eddie Bouhall recorded five groundballs and a caused turnover. Freshman Matt Douglas had two groundballs and two caused turnovers while Leggett recorded a groundball and two caused turnovers, to go with his goal. Sophomore Conor Gaffney (Lenape-NJ) won 10 of his first 11 faceoffs to finish 12-of-19 with eight groundballs.

“I’m really proud of our defense,” said Cassese. “Offensively, we started a little bit slowly, but we certainly picked it up and were able to share the ball.”

It took nearly 12 minutes for either team to get on the scoreboard, when Rai gave Lehigh a 1-0 lead with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter. Lucas Spence added two more goals before the first quarter was over, at 2:29 and 0:01 to give the Mountain Hawks a 3-0 advantage after a quarter of play.

Holy Cross scored off a faceoff just seven seconds into the second quarter, but the Mountain Hawks answered with the next six goals, beginning with Spence’s third of the game. He added another goal while junior Alexander Tumminello rounded out the run, giving Lehigh a 9-2 lead with 2:52 remaining. The Crusaders pulled within 9-3 at the half.

The Mountain Hawks continued the momentum in the second, beginning with the first four goals, including two more from Spence. The Crusaders scored at 8:57 and 3:33 of the fourth quarter, but Cintron and Monnin rounded out the scoring, giving Lehigh the 15-4 win.

Final shots were 33-27 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks held a 44-33 edge in groundballs. After James Spence made seven saves through the first three quarters, sophomore Colin Kirst tallied three in the fourth before junior Chris Kiernan entered in the final minute and made a stop.

“I thought both Spence brothers were outstanding,” said Cassese. “Lucas has been getting a ton of shots, but hasn’t necessarily been finishing all his shots and he did that well today. I was really happy for him because he’s been working hard in the film room and putting in the extra work. His brother James really stood tall on the defensive end. The defense played well in front of him but he was phenomenal behind him.”

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