May 13, 2012
From Lehigh Sports Media Relations
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team erased a five-goal deficit with seven straight goals bridging the second and third quarters, but Maryland wouldn’t go away as Joe Cummings scored with six seconds remaining to hand the Mountain Hawks a crushing 10-9 defeat, in an NCAA First Round game Sunday night. Maryland maintained possession for the game’s final 4:41 leading into the last-second score. Lehigh ends its record-breaking season at 14-3 while the Terrapins improve to 10-5.
The game came in front of a facility-record 2,278 fans and a nationally-televised audience on ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
“I look at the growth and overall maturity of the team and that’s something I keep pointing back to… back to the February loss vs. Villanova, getting shellacked in our home opener,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “Our senior leaders and upperclassmen stepped up to lead us to a nine-game winning streak and a lot of firsts along the way. I’m really proud of them. They have a Patriot League Championship under their belts and did a lot of things for the first time in Lehigh Lacrosse history and for that, I’m very proud and thankful.”
Down 6-1 with 5:52 left in the second quarter, the Mountain Hawks exploded for three in a 2:33 span to pull within 6-4 at the half. Junior Kyle Stiefel was the story in the first, posting his first-career hat trick - all within the game’s first 30 minutes. He posted Lehigh’s first goal on man-up, finishing a feed from junior Dante Fantoni at 2:46 of the second then blasting a man-up tally past Maryland goalie Niko Amato to pull within 6-4.
The Mountain Hawks came out of halftime firing, scoring three goals within the first two minutes and four in the first 3:37 to take an 8-6 advantage. Senior Roman Lao-Gosney got it started at the 14:06 mark before junior David DiMaria finished a sensational individual effort and junior Ryan Snyder scored seven seconds later off the faceoff. Senior Adam Johnston finished a nifty goal at the 11:23 mark to cap off a run of seven Lehigh goals in a 7:56 span.
“The third quarter has absolutely been our quarter all year; our guys have really rallied around that point because in 2011, it was our worst quarter,” said Cassese. “We always know whatever the score is going into halftime, we can rely on the third quarter for extending a lead or coming back. Today, it was coming back.”
The defenses took over as neither team could find the back of the net for 12:57. Freshman goalie Matt Poillon was a big reason why, as he made six of his career-high tying 16 saves in the third stanza to keep Maryland at bay.
Drew Snider ended the Terps’ 22:26 scoreless drought at 13:26 of the fourth, but Fantoni answered just 32 seconds later. However, Lehigh’s offense went silent while Snider made it 9-8, then Mike Chanenchuck tied it at nine with 6:42 remaining. The Mountain Hawks had possession with less than five minutes to go, but a turnover gave it to Maryland, who maintained control for the final 4:41 leading into Cummings’ heroics.
With six seconds to go, Lehigh won the ensuing faceoff, but didn’t have enough time as the Terps held on for the victory. They advanced to face #2 seed Johns Hopkins in the National Quarterfinals on Saturday.
Stiefel’s three goals led the way for Lehigh while DiMaria finished with three points (two goals, one assists) and Fantoni and Roman Lao-Gosney each had a goal and assist. Owen Blye led the Terps with five points (one goal, four assists) while Chanenchuk (one goal, two assists) and Snider (three goals) each had three.
After the teams traded early goals, Maryland went on a 5-0 run to open up a 6-1 lead midway through the second quarter, leading into Lehigh’s run which fell just short.
Maryland led the final shot tally, 37-30, while the Mountain Hawks had a 22-20 edge in groundballs. The Terps won 14-of-23 faceoffs, led by 10-of-14 from Charlie Raffa. Both sides were 2-of-3 on the extra man. Two of the nation’s leaders in fewest turnovers per game combined for only 13 on Sunday night - eight from Lehigh and five from Maryland. Amato made six saves for the Terps while Poillon had 16 for the Mountain Hawks.
“I have to give Maryland credit, it wasn’t our best night on the defensive end, but it could have been far worse than a one-goal loss if Matt didn’t play the way he did,” said Cassese. “He’s done it all year for us, so for me it’s not a surprise; he’s solid and he’s our future.”
The Mountain Hawks finished a record-breaking season with a school-record 14 wins along with the school’s first-ever Patriot League Tournament Title and NCAA Tournament appearance. Lehigh returns numerous underclassmen in 2013, including six of the team’s eight All-Patriot League honorees along with Fantoni, the Patriot League Tournament MVP.