Lehigh vs. Notre Dame
April 20, 2008
The Game Story:
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Before an Ulrich Sports Complex record crowd of over 1,600 people, Lehigh took on No. 10 Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon on Senior Day. The Mountain Hawks hung tough with the Fighting Irish but were ultimately done in by a 6-0 second quarter run by the visitors, as Notre Dame came away with a 14-7 victory. Ryan Hoff scored four goals and dished out one assist as the Irish improve to 9-2 overall with the win. Brian Bienemann and Ricky Cornetta netted two scores each for the Brown and White as its 2008 season comes to a close at 6-9 overall.

“I’m proud of the seniors for all of the effort they put into this one,” Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese said afterwards. “Coming into this week I challenged the seniors to step up their game and to step up their leadership and they did just that. Being out of the Patriot League Tournament, some people may look at this game and say it doesn’t matter, but our guys didn’t buy into that.”

He added, “Our seniors played hard and it was good to see (goalkeeper) John Park get in there. He made some big saves and has been such a great supporter to (fellow senior goalkeeper) Eric Spirko all season long.”

Notre Dame took 45 shots on the afternoon, led by Hoff’s nine attempts, while Lehigh was credited with 29 shots, as Max Dahlem led the Mountain Hawks with five attempts. Spirko, Richard Bradley and Stuart Baxter scooped up four ground balls apiece to account for twelve of the team’s 36 GBs on the afternoon. Taylor Clagett won 10-of-16 face offs for the Irish and added a game-high seven ground balls, as Notre Dame had its way in the X, winning 17-of-25.

Spirko finished with nine saves in 45 minutes of action in goal for Lehigh, while Park played the final quarter and sent back six shots of his own. Notre Dame goalkeeper Joey Kemp stopped eight shots in his 55 minutes of work.

Hoff opened the game with his 27th goal of the season at the 8:48 mark of the first quarter, but Cornetta tied things at one just 30 seconds later off a feed from Dahlem. Grant Krebs gave the Irish the lead back, but Brant Fischer found the back of the net for Lehigh for just the second time this season and after one quarter of play, the teams were tied at two.

In the second quarter, Notre Dame’s offense unleashed six straight goals in a span of 3:07 to surge in front 8-2 with 2:24 remaining in the half. That is how the score remained as the teams retired for halftime.

The Irish continued their strong offensive play in the third, scoring the first three goals to go in front 11-2 with 8:00 left. Bienemann scored both of his goals though in a span of 60 seconds and Lehigh had life, pulling to within seven at 11-4. Hoff scored his fourth goal of the game with 5:25 left on the quarter clock however, and Notre Dame took a 12-4 lead into the final 15 minutes of play.

Matt Diehl scored the final quarter’s first goal on an unassisted score to bring Lehigh to within seven yet again. After two more goals by the visitors, Fred Cassilly and Cornetta added goals for the Mountain Hawks to make the final margin seven, at 14-7.

Cassese commented on the crowd, which was the largest ever at the Ulrich Sports Complex to see a Lehigh Athletics event. “It had a different feel to it. You could tell walking in here that there was something different about the entire atmosphere today. People are excited about lacrosse and about this program and hopefully that will continue as we move forward with building this.”

A replay of Sunday's game will be shown on Sunday evening, beginning at 5:00 on Service Electric 2 Sports. The game is also available on-demand on Lehighsports.com.