BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The 16th ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team used a 5-0 second-half run to turn a one-goal lead into a six-goal advantage, on its way to a big 11-7 win over #15 Yale on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon. The Mountain Hawks’ defense continued to shine, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for a 21:29 stretch while senior Adam Johnston scored a natural hat trick to erase any doubt. The win pulls Lehigh to 6-1 on the season, marking its best start since 1969. Lehigh also defeated Yale for the first time since 1918.
“I was proud of the way our guys played today and the effort they showed,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “Both teams were tired after tough midweek games, so I’m proud of the way our guys started the game with energy and most importantly, closed the game and solidified the win.”
Overall, Lehigh has won five in a row, its longest since 1999. Included are three wins over ranked foes; the Mountain Hawks are the only Patriot League team to defeat a ranked foe this season, and they’ve done it three times.
“I think the difference in our five-game run is that we’ve had certain guys step up and make plays, making sure that they don’t leave a play out on the field,” said Cassese. “That’s been a major Achilles heel for us. We’ve talked a lot about it and they’ve done a nice job of securing those plays and coming up with the win.”
Johnston picked up his 12th-career hat trick, all coming in a 6:04 span in the fourth to put Lehigh up 11-5 following his second man-up goal of the game. Junior David DiMaria was stellar as well, scoring three for his fourth-career hat trick while classmate Dante Fantoni posted three points via a goal and two assists. Senior Cameron Lao-Gosney and freshman Dan Taylor also added two points apiece via one goal and one assist.
The Lehigh defense held a potent Yale offense to only seven goals and 26 shots, holding the Bulldogs to only five goals over the first 56:38 before they added two with the game thoroughly in control. Yale entered averaging 14.67 goals over its first three games.
Sophomore and reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week Ty Souders held Yale’s second-leading scorer Brandon Mangan to only a single assist while junior Noah Molnar posted a career-high four caused turnovers. Overall, the Mountain Hawks forced 16 turnovers while only having 11 themselves.
Freshman Patrick Corbett got the scoring started at 11:45 of the first when he corralled a groundball off DiMaria’s initial shot, then beat Yale goalie Jack Meyer. The Bulldogs tied it up just 3:16 later, but the Mountain Hawks scored the next three, capped off by two highlight-reel goals from DiMaria, to make it 4-1 at 13:53 of the second.
Yale came right back with an impressive 3-0 run of its own, all in a 3:41 span, to pull even at four at the 8:03 mark. The Mountain Hawks responded with two straight to end the half, by Lao-Gosney and Taylor, to make it 6-4 following 30 minutes of play. Taylor’s goal came with 10 seconds remaining off a nice feed from Fantoni.
The Bulldogs’ Michael Pratt scored his first of two goals just 5:09 into the third quarter, but that’s when the Mountain Hawks took over. DiMaria and junior Roman Lao-Gosney made it 8-5 early in the fourth after Lao-Gosney’s high rocket at 13:54 of the fourth.
Then, Johnston got going, scoring his first following a delayed penalty, scooping a groundball and finding the open net to make it 9-5. He later added two man-up goals, the first off a fast break, and second off another rebound. That gave Lehigh an 11-5 advantage to erase any doubt. The Bulldogs added two goals over the final 3:22 to pull within four, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Johnston also added four groundballs while sophomore Ryan Snyder finished with five. He won the first three against Yale’s main faceoff specialist Cole Yeager before the Bulldogs’ Dylan Levings impressed in taking the last 19. Junior Mike Noone tied a career-high three groundballs while Souders added two with a caused turnover.
Lehigh led the final shot count, 35-26 while Yale held a 31-27 edge in groundballs. Freshman Matt Poillon was strong in making eight saves, across Meyer who made 10 before being relieved by Eric Natale. The Mountain Hawks were 2-for-2 on man-up opportunities to improve to 64 percent on the year (14-of-22). Yale was 1-for-2.
Lehigh remains home for its Patriot League opener on Saturday as the Mountain Hawks welcome Army for a 1 p.m. faceoff. The squad will then hit the road the following Tuesday (Mar. 20) for a 7 p.m. tilt at #10 Penn State.