Lehigh vs. Navy
March 25, 2005
The Game Story:
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Junior attack Jon Birsner (Levittown, N.Y.) turned in three goals and a trio of assists to lead the sixth-ranked Navy lacrosse team to an 11-5 victory over Lehigh (5-3/0-2 PL) at Ulrich Field Friday evening in front of a stadium-record 840 fans. The victory improved the Mids' record to 6-1, including a 3-2 Patriot League record, winning three straight.

"I thought we played with a lot of intensity tonight for an extended amount of time," said Navy head coach Richie Meade. "Our defense was solid. We made a few mistakes, but overall we were good. I felt that some of the young guys, Andrew Dow, Victor Barger and Brendan Teague did a nice job when they got the opportunity.

"Offensively, we were sloppy, but we were playing at a fast pace and playing extremely well. Overall, I thought we had a better effort tonight than we have had over the last few weeks."

Lehigh struck first when Alec Hooff threaded a shot past his Navy defender and over the right shoulder of Navy goalkeeper Matt Russell (Madison, Conn.). The Mountain Hawks held the lead just a minute before Birsner scored his first of three goals off an assist from senior attack Ben Horn (Mill Valley, Calif.) at the 8:41 mark in the opening stanza.

Navy took a 2-1 lead when team captain and long stick defensive midfielder Seth DiNola (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) raced down the field where he found Horn who tucked the ball in past Lehigh freshman keeper Eric Spirko.

David Walsh knotted the game at two apiece when he scored an unassisted goal with 3:48 remaining in the first period.

The Mids opened the second quarter with a goal by senior Graham Gill (Medford, N.J.) off an assist from Birsner. Gill's goal sparked four-consecutive goals by the Mids, giving Navy a 6-2 lead at the half.

The Mids scored their fifth-straight goal when freshman Nick Mirabito (Binghamton, N.Y.) scored an extra-man goal with 8:47 left in the third quarter.

Lehigh stopped Navy's run of goals on an extra-man goal by Balke Best with 4:10 left in the quarter.

Navy traded goals with Lehigh in the final 25 seconds of the third period. Birsner curled around the cage to mark his third goal with 23 ticks left of the clock. The Mountain Hawks answered at the buzzer when David Gaunt shot nearly 25 yards out to narrow Navy's lead to 8-4.

Senior face-off specialist Chris Pieczonka (Hamburg, N.Y.) scored his first goal of the season by taking the draw and heading straight to the goal to give the Mids a 9-4 advantage six seconds into the fourth quarter.

Walsh produced his second goal of the game on a diving shot with 7:53 remaining in the contest.

Navy scored the final-two goals of the contest to earn its 21st win in 22 games against the Mountain Hawks.

The Mids owned a 42-21 shot advantage, including a 23-9 edge in the second half.

Navy struggled to win face-offs in the first half, as Lehigh's Tom Weiss won seven of the 10 first half draws. The Mids regrouped in the second half to claim seven of the nine face-offs and owned a 10-9 advantage for the game. Pieczonka was 10 for 15 for the Mids.

"Once Chris got into the flow of the game, he did a better job," said Meade. "Jeff King creates a lot of chaos on the wings and we were a little off. Steve Looney missed a few ground balls that he usually gets, as did a few others. But, I was encouraged that we kept at it and won the battle at the end of the night."

While Birsner led the Mids with his six points, Mirabito finished with three goals, Horn posted two goals and an assist, while Gill posted a goal and two helpers.

Lehigh was led by Walsh's two goals and Hoof produced a goal and an assist. Navy silenced the Mountain Hawks' top-two scorers. Andrew Lucas, who owns 23 goals and two assists this season, was held scoreless, as was second-leading scorer Greg Morin, who has turned in 16 goals and four assists.

"Mike Felber did a great job against Lucas," said Meade. "Mike may have had his best game of the year and he's had some good ones. Lucas is the focal point of the Lehigh program. It wasn't so much what Mike did on the ball, put you have to play Lucas off the ball very well because he can get free and score. Mark Goers did a good job preparing the defense and I feel good about our effort today."

Navy continues Patriot League action when it faces Holy Cross in an Easter Sunday matinee in Worcester, Mass. Face-off is set for 1 p.m.