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Mountain Hawks pull out thrilling 16-15 win over #14/18 Princeton

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior Dan Taylor scored with 16 seconds remaining to end a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair and give the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team a thrilling 16-15 win over #14/18 Princeton on Tuesday evening. Four different Lehigh players tallied a hat trick while junior Tripp Telesco led the defense with a groundball and four caused turnovers. The win marks Lehigh’s first over Princeton since 1890, snapping a 12-game losing streak against the six-time NCAA Champion Tigers. It was the Mountain Hawks’ first win over a ranked opponent since the Patriot League Semifinals last season when Lehigh defeated Army, 12-11, which also featured a last-second goal.

“I’m proud of the effort,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “It’s great to win. We’ve obviously had our struggles this year. It’s great to win and do it on our home field against a quality program like Princeton.”

Taylor led the offense with six points behind two goals and four assists, his fourth straight game with five or more points. In the process, he surpassed David DiMaria for second place in school history with 206 career points (and tops in the Patriot League era).

“Dan Taylor is a special player; he’s a special young man,” said Cassese. “He’s one of those players, those student-athletes, those men who don’t come around too often. He’s just special. I have no issue with putting the ball in his stick and letting him go. That’s what we did at the end of the game. Every bone in my body was confident that he was going to make that play and he went ahead and made it. I’m really proud of him and I’m proud of all of our players. It’s a great night for Lehigh Lacrosse.”

Junior Alex Eaton tallied his first-career hat trick, along with an assist, while classmate Reid Weber and senior Kurtis Kaunas also posted three goals and an assist.

Along with Telesco’s efforts, junior Casey Eidenshink tallied two groundballs and two caused turnovers while freshman Bo Lori was strong on the faceoff wing, scooping a career-high six groundballs along with his first-career point (an assist). Freshman Matt Ernst won 11-of-18 faceoffs.

Princeton got the scoring started just 1:27 into the game, but Kaunas had an answer only 1:30 later. The Tigers took a 2-0 lead at 9:45 of the first quarter, but the Mountain Hawks responded with four straight goals and seven of the next seven. Taylor scored an unassisted tally to tie the score at two. Later in the quarter, Weber scored consecutive goals to give his team a 5-2 lead. After the Tigers answered, Corbett scored his first two of the evening, with four seconds left in the first quarter then just 19 seconds into the second, to give the Mountain Hawks a 7-3 advantage.

The Tigers responded to take control through most of the second quarter, scoring five straight to take an 8-7 lead. After an Eaton goal evened the score, MacDonald scored his third goal in the span of 4:34 to give Princeton a 9-8 advantage at the half.

The Mountain Hawks quickly took a lead in the third quarter as Kaunas scored his second of the evening at 12:09 before junior Ray Mastroianni scored a transition goal off a feed from Lori, making it 10-9. The teams went back and forth through the remainder of the game, standing tied at 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. The Mountain Hawks trailed 15-14 after Kip Orban scored an unassisted tally at 4:14, but Kaunas’ hat trick goal pulled Lehigh even at 3:04.

In the final minutes, the Mountain Hawks had an extra man opportunity. After a Princeton save of a Corbett shot in the final minute, Weber came up with a huge groundball. Lehigh held for the final shot, and Taylor wouldn’t be denied.

Princeton’s last-ditch effort hit the side of the goal as the Mountain Hawks held on for the 16-15 victory. Lehigh has now scored 16 or more goals in three of its last four games (all wins).

The game proved very similar to last season’s meeting against Princeton which saw Lehigh drop a 10-9 double overtime heartbreaker in a game which saw neither team lead by more than one goal. On Tuesday, there were 11 ties and five lead changes. Neither team led by more than one over the final 39:22.

Final shots were 45-30 in favor of Lehigh while the Mountain Hawks held a 41-22 edge in groundballs. The Mountain Hawks won 18-of-34 faceoffs in total. Lehigh was 3-of-6 in extra man opportunities compared to Princeton’s 0-of-2. Sophomore goaltender Donny Stires picked up his first-career win in relief, entering the game in the fourth quarter and making one save while allowing just two goals, Princeton’s lowest-scoring quarter of the evening. Tigers’ goalie Tyler Blaisdell made 12 stops.

Lehigh will now head to #18/14 Stony Brook on Sunday for a 3 p.m. opening faceoff.

Like Lehigh men’s lacrosse on Facebook and follow on Twitter for continued updates on the Mountain Hawks.

In 2009, Adam O’Neill, Harry Alford and Thomas Alford launched Lacrosse Playground as the preeminent site for lacrosse gearheads. For years Lacrosse Playground provided lacrosse fans with tutorials and tips on how to string a lacrosse head, up-close looks at the gear the top players used and sneak peeks at equipment and uniforms before they were released. More than 10 years and millions of visits later, Lacrosse Playground has relaunched with a focus on storytelling. Our mission is to provide comprehensive coverage of the latest lacrosse news, share insights into the sports betting and fantasy lacrosse world and showcase the lifestyles and personalities of the sport of lacrosse through articles, videos and podcasts.

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