Lehigh vs. Army
March 17, 2012
The Game Story:
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - For the second game in a row, Army had a one-goal game on its hands but for the second-straight Saturday the Black Knights came up short. Juniors Garrett Thul and Alex Van Krevel netted two goals apiece, but it was No. 11 Lehigh surviving Army, 9-8, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Patriot League opener for both teams at Ulrich Sports Complex.

A staunch defensive battle on both sides of the field, the teams entered halftime tied at 2-2. The Black Knights dug out of a 6-3 hole in the fourth quarter, while Thul's second goal of the day with 1:05 remaining in regulation kept Army alive. Senior midfielder Derek Sipperly, who put together a dominating 12-of-17 performance in the "x," won the ensuing face-off, but the Black Knights could not score the equalizer over the final minute.

Army (3-5, 0-1 Patriot League) out-shot Lehigh (7-1, 1-0) 34-30, while the Mountain Hawks held a 22-20 edge in ground balls. Both goalies authored solid performances with Lehigh rookie Matt Poillon making 13 saves and Army senior Zach Palmieri totaling eight.

"I thought Lehigh's goalie (Poillon) played a great first half with nine saves," said seventh-year head coach Joe Alberici. "Our face-off was dominant in the first half, but our first loss in there resulted in that first goal of the second half. That was a momentum shift, no question.

"I felt like we played pretty well defensively, but Lehigh is a really good group all the way around," Alberici added. "We knew it was going to be this type of battle. We just didn't come out on the right end of a one-goal game. They are a great team and now our job is to give ourselves an opportunity to see these guys again."

Lehigh improved to 7-1 overall and is off to its best start since 1969. The Mountain Hawks are nationally ranked for the first time in program history.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, but it was Thul breaking the silence and opening the scoring with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter. The 6-3 lefty corralled a pass from senior co-captain Devin Lynch to help Army take a 1-0 lead into the second quarter.

Lehigh answered with its first goal just 1:33 into the second quarter, but Lynch assisted on Army's second goal as well when he delivered a pass to senior James MacGibbon at 10:23. The 2-1 edge would be the Black Knights' final lead of the game.

The Mountain Hawks scored five of the next six goals, stretching into the fourth quarter, and took their largest lead of the game, 6-3, with 10:14 left in the game. Van Krevel worked around Lehigh's defense and scored from the left side at the 10:07 mark of the third quarter for Army's lone goal during the Mountain Hawks' critical run.

The Black Knights scored three of the final four goals of the game, but it was not enough to overcome the deficit. Van Krevel netted his second goal of the day with 6:56 remaining in the game, pulling Army within 6-4. Freshman midfielder John Glesener got the Army fans cheering, taking a feed from MacGibbon behind the goal as Army made it a 6-5 game with 4:21 on the clock.

Lehigh's Dante Fantoni completed a hat trick with 2:53 left, as the Mountain Hawks gave themselves a 7-5 cushion with time evaporating. Thul's goal with 1:05 on the clock kept Army's rally alive, as he drove through heavy traffic for his second goal of the afternoon. Army would get the ball back one more time, as Sipperly won the ensuing face-off. The Black Knight got two shots off with under a minute to go, but both rolled wide of the cage.

Fantoni's three goals led all players, while four different Lehigh players accounted for the Mountain Hawks' seven goals.

Army continues Patriot League play over the next five weeks. Next on the docket is a return trip to the Lehigh Valley and a visit to Lafayette on Saturday, March 24, in Easton, Pa. A 1p.m. face-off is scheduled.

Game Notes: Neither team committed a penalty over the full 60 minutes of play ... Lehigh is the fourth of six teams currently ranked in the top 20 of both current national polls that Army will face this season ... Army and Lehigh were the final Patriot League teams to begin conference play ... senior John Adair carried the American flag onto the field during pregame ... Garrett Thul extended his goal-scoring streak to 32 games.