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Lehigh edges BU, 10-9, to advance to Patriot League title game vs. Army

Saturday, 4th May 2019

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 5/4/19
From Press Release

The second-seeded Lehigh men’s lacrosse team ended the third quarter on a 4-0 run to turn a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead, and the Mountain Hawks wouldn’t look back as they downed third-seeded Boston University 10-9 on Friday evening at the Ridley Athletic Complex.

The win sends Lehigh to its second straight Patriot League Championship Game and fifth in the last eight seasons. The Mountain Hawks will face fourth-seeded Army West Point in Sunday’s title game, who upset top seed Loyola in the first semifinal.

The win marks Lehigh’s fifth straight win in the Patriot League Semifinals and second in as many years at the Ridley Athletic Complex, both one-goal victories. A balanced effort saw three Mountain Hawks score two goals, led by senior Lucas Spence’s (Springfield-Delco) two goals and two assists.

Classmate Craig Chick was stellar, tallying six groundballs and three caused turnovers, moving to 157 in his career – just one from tying and two from breaking the all-time NCAA record. He also played a big part in shutting down Boston University leading scorer Chris Gray, who had just a goal and two assists after entering the day with a nation’s leading and Patriot League record 108 points.

“I thought we played great on defense,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “Craig Chick and Matt Rimol in particular were two seniors who we challenged before the game and said we’re going to let you guys get after them a little bit. We’re going to really rely on you and the rest of your senior class.

“The guys who were on the field and the seniors who weren’t due to injury, Bouhall and Pettit in particular, did a great job of leading the way. It came down to defense and overall toughness. We showed that grit we’ve been lacking a little bit in April. I’m glad it came back, because it earned us another game [on Sunday].”

Senior Matt Rimol covered and helped contain Terriers’ leading goal scorer James Burr. He entered with 54 goals on the season, but had just two Friday night. Freshman defenseman Patrick McIlroy made his first-career start, posting two groundballs and two caused turnovers.

Along with Spence, senior Tristan Rai and junior Ryan Klose each scored twice as well. Junior Crew Cintron and freshman Tommy Schelling each had a goal and assist.

Junior Conor Gaffney (Lenape) was spectacular facing off, winning 15-of-22 with 11 groundballs, while scoring his second-career goal. In the process, he moved to 137 on the season and became the Patriot League all-time leader for a single season, passing Robert Grabher of Colgate (132).

The Terriers jumped out to a 1-0 lead, which carried late into the first quarter. It could have been larger, but sophomore goaltender James Spence (Springfield-Delco) was spectacular, stopping 7-of-8 shots sent his way over the first 15 minutes. The Mountain Hawks took advantage, as Rai and Cintron scored at 3:14 and 1:03 to give Lehigh a 2-1 lead after one quarter of play. The Cintron goal came on a tremendous pass from Spence, who found the junior in stride for the finish.

The Mountain Hawks’ lead reached two at 3-1 then 4-2, the Terriers scored three straight to reopen a 5-4 lead, but Gaffney scored just six seconds later off a faceoff to even the score at 5-5 at the half.

The Terriers began the second half with two goals in the first 2:08, but Lehigh had an answer. The Mountain Hawks scored the final four goals of the stanza, from Rai, Klose, Spence and senior Mickey Fitzpatrick (on a stellar feed from junior Christian McHugh), to give Lehigh a 9-7 edge heading into the fourth quarter.

Boston University snapped a nearly 15-minute scoreless drought early in the frame, but Schelling had a big answer. The Terriers pulled within 10-9 with 7:26 remaining, but that would be the final goal of the contest. In the end, Lehigh held Boston University to single-digit goals for just the fourth time this season, twice happening vs. the Mountain Hawks.

Final shots were 44-37 in favor of the Terriers while the Mountain Hawks held a 37-27 edge in groundballs. Spence finished with 11 saves, including two big fourth-quarter stops. Boston University’s Joe McSorley made 10 saves.

The Mountain Hawks will return to action in less than 48 hours when they face fourth-seeded Army West Point on Sunday at 12 p.m. at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, with the winner receiving the Patriot League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought the regular season vs. Army was the toughest game we’ve played all season,” said Cassese. “That’s why we won the game. You can’t bring anything else when you play Army. It’s a direct challenge – the academies’ work ethic and overall level of toughness, both physically and mentally. We’re going to lean on our seniors again to show us the way and set the standard.”

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