April 23, 2011

Lehigh Cruises to Win over Rival Lafayette

from press release

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Behind a career-high eight points from sophomore David DiMaria and career-high 15 saves from sophomore Griffin Farha, the Lehigh men's lacrosse team jumped out to a 10-2 halftime lead and wouldn't look back, downing archrival Lafayette, 14-7, on Saturday evening. With the win, the Mountain Hawks (7-8, 3-3 Patriot League) enter their first league tournament since 2006 with their most league victories since that same season.

"The game was decided in the early going," said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. "Our guys came out with a lot of energy. We were great on offense, and locked them down on defense. We got off to a nice lead, which helped solidify the victory."

The win also improves Lehigh's record against Lafayette to 26-4 across all sports during the 2010-11 calendar year.

The Mountain Hawks will enter the Patriot League Tournament as the No. 4 seed and play at top-seeded Bucknell, who defeated Colgate, 12-7 on Saturday evening. Colgate and Army will square off in the other semifinal.

DiMaria's four goals and four assists shattered his previous career-high point total of five, while his four goals also marked a career best. Fellow sophomore Dante Fantoni impressed as well with four points via two goals and two assists. One of the nation's most prolific scoring duos, the two finish the regular season with a combined 94 points - 48 from DiMaria (20 goals, 28 assists) and 46 from Fantoni (33 goals, 13 assists).

Junior Cameron Lao-Gosney contributed three points (two goals, one assist) while junior Adam Johnston and sophomore Noah Molnar added a pair. The two goals from Molnar tied a career high.

Farha spearheaded the defense, posting a career-high 15 saves, including 10 in the second half to keep Lafayette's comeback attempt at bay. Sophomore Mike Noone held Lafayette's leading scorer Tom Perini to only a single goal while senior Richard Bradley had two caused turnovers and a groundball while holding Stefan Bauer to no even strength goals.

Saturday also marked Senior Night with Lehigh's six seniors honored prior to opening faceoff - Bradley, Ryan Brown, Morgan Haller, Chris Ryan, Will Scudder and Jonathan Stumpf.

"It was nice to be able to get all of our seniors in," said Cassese. "Morgan made a save, which was nice to see. I'm happy for him; he's a great team player."

Lehigh set the tone early when Molnar scored only 20 seconds into the game to make it 1-0. Cameron Lao-Gosney and Stump added goals to make it 3-0 before the Leopards responded with two of the next three to pull within 4-2.

That's when the Mountain Hawks took over, scoring eight straight in the span of 17:21 to break the game open. DiMaria was the catalyst of the offense, as his unassisted goal with one second remaining in the second quarter gave him six points in the first half of play.

Molnar scored a man-down goal at 10:54 of the third, while DiMaria continued his magic only 1:51 later to give Lehigh a 10-goal advantage. But Lafayette began to charge, scoring five straight in a 5:26 span to pull within 12-7 with 2:45 remaining in the third.

Johnston broke the momentum at 13 seconds of the quarter, finishing a feed from Fantoni to break a 8:50 scoreless drought, while he added another score at 3:57 of the fourth to account for the 14-7 final.

Lehigh led the final shot (44-33) and groundball (37-30) counts. The Mountain Hawks won 12-of-23 faceoffs, led by 7-of-13 from sophomore Ryan Snyder who scooped six groundballs to extend his Patriot League single-season groundball record to 110. Farha finished with 15 saves across a trio of Leopard goalies, who combined for 10.

The Mountain Hawks look ahead to their first trip to the Patriot League Tournament since 2006. Lehigh will be the No. 4 seed and face the winner of Saturday's Bucknell at Colgate showdown in the semifinal round. The tournament kicks off with the semis next Friday (Apr. 29), with the finals being held on Sunday (May 1). Both games will air live on the CBS Sports Network.

"We're in it to win," said Cassese. "It's great for us to get there for the first time since 2006, but we're not happy just being there. We're competitors. We're here to win a game on Friday, then hopefully Sunday."


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