Lehigh vs. Lafayette
April 18, 2009
The Game Story:
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh and Lafayette engaged in a classic down-to-the-wire rivalry showdown on Saturday evening and in the end it was the Leopards outlasting the Mountain Hawks 9-8 at the Ulrich Sports Complex. With the loss, Lehigh’s season comes to a close at 4-11 overall and its eight-game winning streak versus its archrival comes to an end. Lafayette’s season ends with a record of 6-7 overall and 2-4 in the Patriot League. Brian Bienemann and Max Dahlem led the Brown and White with two goals apiece, while Matt Mersky scored three goals for the Leopards.

The game was a hard-hitting affair with lots of physical play. Lehigh unleashed 39 shots, led by Ricky Cornetta, Roman Lao-Gosney and Cameron Lao-Gosney with six apiece. Sophomore Rich Bradley and freshman Adam Johnston scooped up eight ground balls each, while Will Scudder won 12-of-21 in the X and totaled six GBs. Johnston led the Brown and White with two assists, while Morgan Haller sent back a career-high 15 shots in goal.

Mersky and Perini led the Leopards with eight shots apiece, while Matt Hozer scooped up eight ground balls. Jeff Canfield sent back 11 shots in goal and five different Leopards handed out one assist. Mozer also caused four turnovers.

“For whatever reason Lafayette came out more energized than we did,” Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese said afterwards. “But give our guys credit, they battled back. I said to them several times throughout the game that this was not unfamiliar territory for us; we’ve been down before and we’ve come back, so we knew we could come back tonight.”

“This is a fierce rivalry and the kids were playing their tails off out there. It comes down to who makes the most plays and tonight Lafayette made a few more than we did.” He continued, “I’m sad for our guys, and in particular our seniors. We had a nice season within the Patriot League; unfortunately we don’t get to move on. At the same time I’m sad for Lafayette’s seniors, because they won’t be moving on either. We both battled tonight and wound up knocking one another out of the postseason.”

Lafayette jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening quarter as John Galassi and Tom Perini scored once and Mersky scored twice. Stefan Bauer opened the second quarter with another Leopard score, putting Lehigh in a 5-0 hole just seven seconds into the second. Lehigh got its act together though and scored two straight, with Bienemann netting both scores, to bring the Mountain Hawks within three at 5-2.

Mersky and Perini responded with back-to-back scores for the visitors to make the score 7-2 with 4:01 remaining before halftime, but Cornetta found the back of the net with 25 seconds left in the half, sending the teams into halftime with the Brown and White trailing 7-3.

Roman Lao-Gosney opened the second half with a score to bring Lehigh within three, but Greg Allis responded for Lafayette to make the score 8-4. Will Scudder took matters into his own hands for the Mountain Hawks, as he won the ensuing face-off, sprinted past the Lafayette defense and rifled a shot into the back of the net to bring Lehigh within three again, this time at 8-5. That was the final goal of the third, sending the teams into the final 15 minutes down three.

Dahlem opened the fourth with his 11th goal of the season off a feed from Johnston to make the score 8-6, and Johnston then followed with a score of his own bringing Lehigh within a single score at 8-7. Tyler Silvey gave Lafayette a two-goal advantage with a man-up score with 4:30 on the clock, but Dahlem came right back and scored with 3:50 to go, making it a one-goal game coming down the stretch. The Mountain Hawks had several chances down the stretch but were unable to find the back of the net.

Cassese added, “We’re going to continue to work and keep building and look forward to the 2010 season.”