Navy vs. Lehigh
April 29, 2005
The Game Story:
Annapolis, MD – Lehigh made its first ever Patriot League appearance on Friday afternoon, but the Mountain Hawks’ postseason inexperience showed as Navy capitalized on early goals in the first and third quarters en route to a 10-6 win at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Mountain Hawks found themselves down four goals after the first quarter as their season comes to an end at 9-5. Navy improves to 10-3 and advances to Sunday’s championship game.

The Mids got on the board at the 13:42 mark of the opening half when Nick Mirabito scored his 20th goal of the season on an assist from Jon Birsner and Lehigh quickly found itself down 1-0. Billy Looney added to the Navy lead with an unassisted score with 12:16 to go in the opening quarter, and for the next five minutes the offense for both teams went quiet.

Birsner changed that with his tenth goal of the season at the 7:40 mark to put the home team ahead by a trio of goals, and Ben Horn scored goal number 21 on the season with 2:06 left in the quarter to send the Midshipmen to a 4-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Lehigh controlled the second quarter, and got on the board for the first time when Andrew Lucas took a pass from classmate Greg Morin at the 14:50 mark of the second quarter, and the Mountain Hawks were within three. Navy answered just 1:25 later, when Graham Gill found the back of the net, and Lehigh again trailed by four. After 12 minutes of no scoring, Lucas struck again, as he netted goal number 34 on the season with just 1:31 remaining in the half, off of an assist from Jeff Wiener, to bring the Brown and White to within three at 5-2. The two teams would head to the locker room with the same score after a half that saw Lehigh get out shot 21-9 and win just three of eight face offs.

The Mountain Hawks were five of eight in clear attempts, while Navy was eight of nine, and Lehigh had five man-up opportunities, two of which it cashed in for goals.

As the second half started, Lehigh was in the midst of an almost two-minute man-up advantage, but the Midshipmen were the ones that took advantage as Looney scored just over 1:30 into the half, and Navy was in front 6-2. Steve’s brother Steve Looney then pushed the Mids lead to five when he beat Lehigh goal keeper Eric Spirko at the 12:08 mark, and the score was 7-2 in favor of the top-seeded Midshipmen. Steve Looney scored his second goal in just over one minute as he found the back of the net at the 11:06 mark, and Navy was ahead 8-2.

Following a Greg Morin interception of a Mids pass, Blake Best ended the Navy run, as he scored goal number 18 on the season with 6:40 remaining in the quarter. Morin made his way right to the goal before dumping the ball off to Best who beat Navy goal keeper Matt Russell, and pulled the Mountain Haws to within five at 8-3. Andrew Mastomonaco scored Lehigh’s second straight goal with 4:13 to go in the quarter, and his fourth goal of the season sliced the Midshipmen lead in half, at 8-4. Following a Navy turnover, Lucas scooped the ball up near midfield and raced the half-length of the field before dishing off to Morin who deposited the ball in the back of the net, to give the Mountain Hawks their fifth goal of the contest with 2:30 left in the quarter and cut the Mids lead to three at 8-5.

Gill scored his second goal of the game however, just one minute later and the deficit was again four at 9-5 with 1:29 left in the quarter, which is how the game would remain heading into the final 15 minutes.

William Wallace tacked on one more goal for the Mids off a scramble in front of the Lehigh goal early in the fourth quarter. The Mountain Hawks would get one final tally in the final minutes as Lucas completed the hat trick with an unassisted goal.

Lucas finished with three goals and an assist for the Brown and White, while Morin was the only other Mountain Hawk to pick up multiple points. Spirko finished with nine saves in goal. Navy outshot Lehigh by a whopping 38-18 margin and scooped up 34 ground balls compared to just 24 for the Mountain Hawks.

Lehigh’s wraps up its season with a 9-5 record; the nine wins being the most in a single season under head coach Chris Wakely. The Mountain Hawks three Patriot League wins were the most since they won four in the 1999, the last time Lehigh claimed the Patriot League championship. Lehigh will lose seven seniors, including top two scorers Lucas and Morin to graduation as the Mountain Hawks will work to return to the Patriot League Tournament next season.

Wakely was upbeat following the game, and reflected on his most successful season at Lehigh. “We started off the season slow at Delaware, and following that game, we thrust a lot of our upper classmen into major roles and they responded. It was a great year for us, nine wins, and we have a lot of talent coming back next season, along with what we believe to be a solid freshman class.”

Wakely commented on the game, “Navy is very athletic, but also they are very smart. People talk about the horses they have, but they also have thinkers, and that’s what makes them so tough. I thought our guys played very well in spurts, but we also had some tough times. When you play a top opponent like Navy, you have to play well for the entire four quarters and our guys are learning that.”