BALTIMORE – The 20th ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team outscored #14/15 Loyola 5-2 in the third quarter to pull even after 45 minutes of play, but the Greyhounds scored all three fourth-quarter goals to down the Mountain Hawks 11-8 in an early-season Patriot League showdown on Saturday. Loyola won 16-of-21 faceoffs and turned that into a 47-29 edge in shots. Senior goalie Matt Poillon was stellar to give the Mountain Hawks a chance for their first-ever win against the Greyhounds, finishing with a season-high 16 saves.
“I thought it was an absolute battle today,” said Lehigh head Kevin Cassese. “Loyola played angrily after their loss last week and we’re just angry by nature, so there was a lot of emotion out there today.”
Saturday featured a rematch of the 2014 Patriot League Championship Game. The Greyhounds outscored the Mountain Hawks 2-1 in the first quarter and 4-2 in the second, but a big third quarter gave Lehigh a chance going down the stretch.
Senior Dan Taylor led the offense with three goals and one assist to reach 24 points through four games (11 goals, 13 assists). He now has 98 career goals as well. Junior Billy Oppenheimer tied a career high in goals (2) and points (3), including the game-tying goal in the third quarter. Senior Alan Henderson tallied three points (one goal, two assists).
“At the end of the day, it’s a possession game,” said Cassese. “They had a lot of it and we had very little. Credit their faceoff game, groundball play and a relentless offense. That’s how they won today.”
Oppenheimer opened the scoring less than one minute into the game, but Loyola’s Nikko Pontrello answered less than a minute later. With 10:29 left in the first quarter, Zach Herreweyers scored his first of six goals on the afternoon, making it 2-1 which stood as the score after one quarter of play.
Taylor ended a stretch of 12:34 without either team scoring, and 16:16 without a Lehigh goal, evening the score at two early in the second quarter. The teams traded goals over the ensuing minutes before the Greyhounds ended the half on a 3-0 run, with Herreweyers scoring all three goals, to make it 6-3 after 30 minutes of play.
The Mountain Hawks came out of the locker room with a vengeance as Henderson scored on the extra man just 49 seconds into the third quarter before senior Kurtis Kaunas pulled his squad within 6-5 just minutes later. The teams traded goals until late in the third when Taylor took it himself from behind the goal, pulling Lehigh within 8-7. There was a delayed penalty and the Mountain Hawks converted on the ensuing man-up. Oppenheimer made an impressive catch of a Taylor feed in traffic and fired a shot past Loyola goalie Grant Limone to make it 8-8 with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
The Greyhounds had possession through most of the beginning stages of the fourth and converted when Herreweyers scored his sixth to make it 9-8 Loyola with 12:31 remaining. Loyola added goals at 7:19 and 1:35 for a 11-8 lead. The Mountain Hawks actually held an 8-7 shots advantage in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t pull any closer.
Final shots were 47-29 in favor of Loyola while the Greyhounds held a 44-32 edge in groundballs. Loyola’s Graham Savio won 16-of-21 faceoffs on the afternoon as five different Mountain Hawks took at least four faceoffs, but none could win more than once. Six of Poillon’s 16 saves came in the third quarter as he stopped six of eight that stanza. Limone finished with six stops for the Greyhounds.
“Matt Poillon was outstanding,” said Cassese. “He kept us in the game throughout. It was great to see him find his groove and we hope that continues into next week vs. Bucknell.”
Lehigh will return home next Saturday (Mar. 7) to host the Bison at 1 p.m. in another Patriot League showdown.