February 18, 2011

Lehigh Looks to Make Statement vs. 'Nova

from press release

BETHLETHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men's lacrosse team looks to make an early-season statement when it travels to Villanova to face the high-powered Wildcats. Saturday's opening faceoff is set for 12 p.m. The Mountain Hawks, who are coming off a 16-7 triumph over Saint Joseph's last Saturday, look to ride the momentum of their season-opening victory to their first 2-0 start since 2000, while beating Villanova for a second straight season.

Lehigh used a dominating third quarter to surge past Saint Joseph's last Saturday. The Mountain Hawks went on a 9-0 run to begin the second half to turn a one-goal halftime lead to 10. Sophomore Ryan Snyder's dominance at the faceoff x was paramount to the win, as he won 17-of-21 while picking up 11 ground balls. Senior Will Scudder also won 4-of-5.

Sophomores Dante Fantoni and David DiMaria led the Lehigh attack unit, recording six and three points, respectively. Fantoni scored five goals to tie a career-high while his six points set a new high. DiMaria finished with a career-high three goals for his first-career hat trick. Junior Cameron Lao-Gosney also impressed with his fifth-career hat trick while senior Jonathan Stumpf tied a career-high with four points behind two goals and two assists.

Saturday will feature two of the 20 candidates (in the nation) for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which was announced on Wednesday. Stump and Villanova's Brian Karalunas are both candidates for the award which honors senior student-athletes who excel in four areas: community, classroom, competition and character.

The Wildcats were ranked in numerous preseason polls, including 20th in the initial Preseason Coaches Poll released in December. They were also 16th in Lacrosse Magazine's preseason rankings, while coming in first among "also receiving votes" in the USILA Preseason Coaches Poll. Villanova finished last season with a 10-5 record, including 4-2 in the BIG EAST, losing to only Syracuse and Georgetown.

Saturday marks the renewal of a brewing rivalry between the two sides. Last year's game finished in a thrilling 15-14 double overtime victory for the Mountain Hawks. This is the fifth year in a row that Lehigh and Villanova have played with the sides splitting the previous four meetings. Last year, sophomore goaltender Dan Carr made a career-high 19 saves, while attackman Fantoni brought the game to an end with his second of three overtime winners in 2010.

Villanova comes into the 2011 season high off some of its best years in recent history. Head coach Mike Corrado guided the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and to a national ranking as high as nine in 2010. The Wildcats make their 2011 debut against the Mountain Hawks on Saturday after graduating their top goal scorer and BIG EAST Midfielder of the year, Paul Webber. The team is led by Karalunas, the returning 2010 BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year, two-time USILA All-American and Preseason All-BIG EAST selection. Kevin Cunningham and sophomore Jack Rice will look to replace the holes left by graduation on offense.

The Wildcats lead the all-time series with Lehigh, 15-12. The first-ever meeting between the two came in 1977, 5-4 Villanova victory. The Mountain Hawks won the next four meetings, and the series has been back and forth ever since.

The Mountain Hawks return to action next Tuesday (Mar. 1) when they host Navy in the Patriot League opener. Opening faceoff at the Ulrich Sports Complex is set for 7 p.m.


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