EASTON, Pa. – Leading 5-3 in the second quarter, the #17/19 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team went on an 11-0 run over the next 26:07 to break the game wide open as the Mountain Hawks cruised to a 17-6 win over Lafayette on Friday evening at Fisher Field. Lehigh beat the Leopards for a fifth straight time and 13th time in its last 14 tries as the Mountain Hawks head into the Patriot League Tournament with an 11-4 record and 6-2 league mark. Junior Dan Taylor continued his stellar play with a career-high seven goals including six straight goals to turn an 8-3 lead into a 14-3 advantage.
“Dan did a nice job. Our offense really goes as Dan goes,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “I had a conversation with him before the game tonight and told him I wanted him to be super aggressive and really set the tone for us on the offensive end. He did a good job of that and the other guys followed suit.”
Taylor has now reached 61 points on the season behind 39 goals and 22 assists. The two-time defending Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week set a career high with nine points (seven goals, two assists) as well. He has now posted 22 points over his last three games (16 goals, six assists).
“I thought it was a six-man unit on offense today,” said Taylor. “I thought we shot the ball really well and were working hard off the ground and moving the ball well, so I’m really excited about today.”
The Lehigh defense impressed as junior goalie Matt Poillon stopped six-of-ten shots in just under 45 minutes of action. The Mountain Hawks emptied their bench in the fourth quarter, including the first-career action for freshmen goaltenders Donny Stires and Garrett Miers who each made a save.
Weber got the scoring started at 13:44 of the first quarter, making a move from behind the goal and beating Lafayette netminder Jake Hyatt to make it 1-0. The Leopards tied the score with an extra man goal just over one minute later, but three straight Mountain Hawk goals, beginning with Taylor’s first of the evening, made it 4-1 with 5:41 left in the opening stanza.
Lafayette scored two of the next three to pull within 5-3, but that’s when the Mountain Hawks took over. Lehigh went on to score 11 straight goals over the next 26:07 beginning with an extra man goal from senior Cody Newton. Taylor added his natural hat trick (times two) as the run ended with the first-career goal from junior Sam Lawrence and Kaunas’ second of the evening to make it 16-3 at 1:30 of the third quarter.
From there, several Lehigh players saw action as sophomore Chris Appell scored his second goal of the season in the fourth quarter and sophomore Steve Brodeur, Stires and Miers all played between the pipes and each made at least one save. For the game, the Mountain Hawk goalies stopped 11-of-17 shots sent their way. Lehigh’s defense has allowed seven goals or fewer in seven of the last eight games.
“I thought our guys fouled a little bit too much early in the game and were a little bit overaggressive,” said Cassese. “You can tend to get that in a Lehigh-Lafayette game. I thought they settled in nicely and all four of our goalies did a nice job. Defensively, once we settled in, we did a better job at that end.”
Senior Ty Souders led the defense with a groundball and two caused turnovers. Sophomore Tripp Telesco and short-stick defensive midfielders Lawrence and seniorJimmy Cahill each posted two caused turnovers as well.
Final shots were 42-33 in favor of Lehigh while the Leopards held a 29-25 edge in groundballs. Senior Ryan Buttenbaum won 11 of his 19 faceoffs while scooping six groundballs.
The third-seeded Mountain Hawks will now open the Patriot League Tournament on Tuesday when they host #3 seed Navy. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The winner will advance to Friday’s semifinals (hosted by Loyola) against #2 seed Army.
“We still haven’t played our best lacrosse game,” said Cassese. “We’re hoping to do that in the next week here. We’ll have to do that because we’re going to see a Navy team who knows us very well. We know them very well. We hope to move on, but we’ll have to focus on them first and foremost. We’ll have to play really well on Tuesday to win that game.”