Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/28/18
From Press Release
Junior Lucas Spence (Springfield-Delco) finished with a game-high four goals and five points, none bigger than scoring the game-winner 42 seconds into overtime to send the fourth-seeded Lehigh men’s lacrosse team past No. 11/13 and second-seeded Navy, 10-9, in the Patriot League Semifinals on Friday night at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
Spence’s brother James Spence (Springfield-Delco) came up big in the fourth quarter between the pipes while sophomore Conor Gaffney (Lenape) won the final five faceoffs of the game to help the Mountain Hawks come back from an 8-7 deficit to score three of the final four goals. With the win, Lehigh advances to its first Patriot League Championship Game since 2014 and fourth in the last seven seasons; the Mountain Hawks will face host, top seed, host and No. 6/8 nationally-ranked Loyola on Sunday at 12 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
“I just saw they dropped into zone and it’s easier to attack a shorty so I was going to work the side,” said Spence. “We always preach being as patient as possible. My teammates gave me space and let me make a play.”
Along with Spence’s five points, junior Andrew Pettit (Tower Hill) had three goals and classmate Mickey Fitzpatrick recorded a goal and assist. Junior Craig Chick led the defense with three groundballs and three caused turnovers, giving him 116 in his career to move into eighth place in NCAA history. Classmate Eddie Bouhalladded a groundball and two caused turnovers.
Navy opened a quick 2-0 lead just 2:15 into the game, but the Mountain Hawks answered back with the first of four Spence goals at the 10:56 mark. From there, the teams traded goals through the remainder of the quarter as Pettit’s first, from sophomore Andrew Eichelberger, pulled Lehigh within 4-3 after one quarter of play.
The Mountain Hawks extended their run to 4-0, bridging the entire second quarter and beginning of the third. Goals from senior John Mehok and Spence were the only scores of the second, giving Lehigh a 5-4 halftime lead.
Pettit began the second-half scoring at 11:46 of the third quarter, but Navy ended more than a 23-minute scoreless drought at the 11:37 mark, sparking the Mids on a 4-1 run. Navy’s third straight goal gave it an 8-7 lead heading to the fourth.
Just 26 seconds into the fourth quarter, Pettit finished a nifty pass from Fitzpatrick before Spence gave Lehigh a 9-8 lead just 1:24 later. Navy pulled even at the 4:39 mark, then both teams had multiple chances down the stretch, but couldn’t net the go-ahead goal.
Freshman Teddy Leggett corralled a huge groundball off the opening faceoff of overtime, leading to a Lehigh timeout and Spence unassisted goal as the Mountain Hawks pulled out their first overtime win since beating Villanova in triple overtime in February of 2014.
Final shots were 36-28 in favor of Lehigh while the Mids held a 24-16 edge in groundballs.
Lehigh is set to face Loyola – a 13-8 winner over Boston University – on Sunday at 12 p.m. in the Patriot League Championship Game. The Mountain Hawks will be vying for their first title since 2013.
“I’m thrilled to bring the program back to this stage,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “It’s been so long since we’ve been here. There’s only one player on the team who’s seen this before and that’s fifth-year senior Ian Strain (Episcopal Academy). That’s why I’m so impressed, because there are so many guys on our roster who haven’t been here and done that. To be able to show up like that and show the courage that they did was really impressive. It would have been easy to say we fell a little bit short and there’s always next year.
“We talked a lot in the locker room before the game about seizing in the moment. We’re living in the here and now, not looking too far ahead in the future, not worrying about the past and just focusing on today. Our guys did a good job of that.”