Lehigh vs. Villanova
March 15, 2008
The Game Story:
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh won its third game at home in as many tries this season with a come-from-behind 9-8 victory over Villanova on Saturday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Max Dahlem netted a game-high three scores for the Mountain Hawks who improve to 4-4 with the win, while Jonathan Stumpf and Fred Cassilly both added two scores apiece. The visiting Wildcats received two goals from both Paul Webber and Tommy Nolan and drop to 1-5 with the loss.

Lehigh out shot its counterpart 35-23, led by Stumpf’s ten shots, while Dahlem unleashed five of his own. The Mountain Hawks scooped up seven more ground balls than the Wildcats, 34-27, as seniors Stuart Baxter (7) and Tom Allen (5) led the Brown and White. Baxter was also 11-of-18 on face-offs, which included a pair of key wins in the final three minutes. Senior Dan Honeywell caused a team-high three caused turnovers for the Mountain Hawks and classmate Eric Spirko made eight stops in 60 minutes of action in goal.

John Lade scooped up a team-best five ground balls for ‘Nova, while Webber was credited with a team-best six shots. Andrew DiLoreto stopped nine Lehigh shots in goal for Villanova, while T.J. O’Donnell won seven face-offs in 20 tries. R.J. Lyons handed out two assists, while Tim Driscoll and Ryan Lewis both dished out one apiece.

Webber opened the game with an unassisted score at the 14:06 mark, but Stumpf tied things up at one with a goal on a feed from Stumpf with 8:07 to go. Three straight scores from the Wildcats put the visitors in front 4-1 at the 1:14 mark, but junior Ricky Cornetta took a feed from freshman Dustin Clark and scored with only five ticks remaining to pull the Mountain Hawks to within two heading into the second quarter.

John Henry McNierney scored the first goal of the second quarter off an assist from Stumpf just 12 seconds in as Lehigh got to within one. Chris Aitken gave Villanova a two-goal lead with 5:08 to go, and Lyons scored his first goal of the season with just 2:09 left in the half to make the score 6-3, which is how it would remain heading into halftime.

Nolan scored his second goal of the afternoon with 8:16 left in the third and Lehigh found itself down 7-3. From there however, the Mountain Hawks took complete control of the contest as Cassilly scored a man-up goal at the 5:36 mark and Dahlem scored his tenth goal of the season just 1:30 later to pull the Brown and White within two at 7-5.

Stumpf then made it a one-goal game with his second score at the 1:19 mark, and Dahlem then scored his second goal with just 22 ticks on the clock to send the Lehigh faithful into a frenzy as the game was knotted at seven entering the final quarter.

With 6:10 left in the game Cassilly scored an unassisted goal to give Lehigh a one-goal lead and with 3:03 to go, Dahlem completed his hat trick with a goal off a feed from Cornetta to put the Brown and White in front 9-7. Webber cut it to a one-score game with 2:40 on the clock, but the Mountain Hawks did a solid job down the stretch of holding onto the ball and were able to hold off any hope of a Wildcat comeback.

“We battled hard today,” Lehigh first year head coach Kevin Cassese said afterwards. “In the second half we started to relax and just play our game. The guys were out there having fun, freewheeling and enjoying the game.” He continued, “Our mindset in that second half was to simplify everything, and to do the things we’ve been preaching since day one.”

Cassese then commented on the Mountain Hawks having won all three of their home games this season. “We have had great fan support this season. The crowd today was really into the game and our guys fed off of that.” He added, “I think we’re comfortable at home, we get into our routine and it’s certainly easier to play in front of your own fans as opposed to on the road.”

Lehigh will be back in action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks welcome the nationally ranked Army Black Knights to the Ulrich Sports Complex. The opening face-off is set for 7:00 and all of the action will be shown live on Lehighsports.com with same night coverage on Service Electric 2 Sports at 10:00 PM.