BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Riding a strong overall team effort, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team outshot the Manhattan Jaspers, 47-8, and outscored them, 13-0, on the way to its first shutout in 40 years. The Mountain Hawks (2-1) received four points apiece from junior David DiMaria and freshman Patrick Corbett while freshman Matt Poillon made four saves between the pipes. The shutout is Lehigh’s first since a 10-0 victory over Gettysburg in 1972; it’s also the first shutout in the NCAA since Stony Brook beat Albany, 15-0 on Apr. 24, 2010.
“I thought it was a great effort overall,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “Defensively, you hold a team to zero goals, it’s indicative of our entire team for stepping up to the challenge after a tough loss last Saturday [to Villanova].
“We had a lot of meetings this week; we had a lot of discussion,” Cassese continued. “Guys had a player’s only meeting talking about what we want to do and who we want to be. Hopefully, this is more a representation of who we are as opposed to last Saturday.”
DiMaria and Corbett led the way with three goals and an assist while freshman Dan Taylor and sophomore Matt Smith added two goals apiece. Sophomore Ty Souders recorded his first-career assist on the game’s first goal, scored by senior Cameron Lao-Gosney.
“We got great energy and leadership from DiMaria,” said Cassese. “He really got us going on the offensive end. We weren’t great on offense today, but he made some plays that really got us going.”
The Mountain Hawks controlled possession in the early stages, but Manhattan goaltender Rich Akapnitis stood tall with five first-quarter saves. Gosney did beat him, though, at 8:49, taking a long clearing pass from Souders before making a move to the center of the field and blasting a shot past Akapnitis.
DiMaria and Smith added unassisted tallies towards the end of the first for a 3-0 cushion after 15 minutes. Corbett scored the only goal of the second, one-timing a rebound it into the open net to make it 4-0 at the 4:10 mark.
Lehigh turned it up in the second, scoring just 58 seconds in behind senior Roman Lao-Gosney. Smith made it 7-0 before DiMaria scored two in a 1:34 span for an 8-0 cushion. Taylor scored the next two, at 2:01 of the third then 9:38 of the fourth, for a 10-0 advantage.
Corbett continued his hot play down the stretch, scoring a pair of man-up goals with freshman Kurtis Kaunas’ first-career score sandwiched in between.
“Pat finds a way to score goals,” said Cassese. “We’ve got to find a way to play him more because he’s impressive when he does.”
Lehigh led the final shot count 47-8 and held a 42-20 edge in groundballs. The Mountain Hawks won 9-of-16 faceoffs while they only turned the ball over 12 times to the Jaspers’ 26. Lehigh was 19-of-20 on clears while Manhattan was 11-of-22. Poillon finished with four saves across Akapnitis who made 18.
“We really played great defensively,” said Poillon. “The shutout was really all my defense. They did everything they were supposed to do, which makes it so easy for me as a goalie.”
Sophomore Ryan Buttenbaum impressed winning 6-of-10 faceoffs with a career-high six groundballs. Junior Mike Noone had two groundballs and a career-high three caused turnovers while senior Adam Johnston scooped five groundballs, DiMaria (career-high tying) four and Corbett four.
“The entire defense deserves a lot of credit,” said Cassese. “That’s the way we play D. It’s all the defensive personnel; we’re a very help-oriented defense. Coach Callahan and Coach Wilson deserve a lot of credit for getting those guys ready to play.”
Lehigh will hit the road for three straight away from home, beginning on Tuesday at #17 Penn before heading to #4 North Carolina next Saturday. The Mountain Hawks will then wrap up their trip at VMI on Mar. 6 before returning to the Ulrich Sports Complex to host #18 Yale on Sunday, Mar. 11.
“I hope this is momentum just for our team and our season,” said Cassese. “Obviously the next game is Penn and happens to be on Tuesday night. But none of that is really significant other than the fact that we’re taking a step in the right direction.”