Saint Joseph's vs. Lehigh
February 16, 2008
The Game Story:
PHILADELPHIA – Junior Ricky Cornetta broke a 5-5 tie with goal with 6:18 to play as Lehigh picked up a win in its season opener, downing Saint Joseph’s 7-5 in a defensive struggle Saturday afternoon at Finnesey Field. Matt Diehl netted three goals for the visiting Mountain Hawks, and senior goalie Eric Spirko made ten saves to give Kevin Cassese a victory in his first game as a head coach.

“It was a defensive battle,” said Cassese of the low-scoring, back-and-forth affair. “Both goalies played really well. We let up an easy goal early on but from there the defense was able to learn from its mistakes and the guys did well to help each other out.”

Diehl scored twice within the first five minutes of the game to put Lehigh up 2-0, but Saint Joseph’s responded with two goals to tie the game at the end of one quarter, and then Scott Cullinan scored the first of his two goals to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the half. Diehl completed his hat trick scoring on a feed from Jonathan Stumpf with just under two minutes to go in the half, and the teams went into halftime tied at three.

Lehigh reclaimed the lead with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter as senior Greg Furst scored an unassisted goal, but in the final seconds of the quarter Steve O’Brien scored to knot the game at four.

Early in the fourth quarter, senior Fred Cassilly put Lehigh up 5-4 with an unassisted goal, but Cullinan’s second tally tied the game once more with ten minutes remaining. Cornetta finally put Lehigh ahead for good with his goal off a feed from sophomore Brian Bienemann, and Cassilly added a second unassisted goal in the final 90 seconds to cement the win for the Brown and White.

Lehigh out shot Saint Joseph’s 36-26 for the game; including a 24-8 advantage in the second half. The Hawks held a slim 26-24 advantage in ground balls, while Lehigh managed to win nine of 16 face-offs. Senior Stuart Baxter won 8-of-12 face-offs and added a team-leading four ground balls.

“I’m impressed with the way the guys played,” added Cassese. “The played really hard for the full 60 minutes to get a victory.

Erik Hotaling made 15 saves for Saint Joseph’s, which falls to 0-2 on the season.

The Mountain Hawks will return to action on Saturday February 23 when they visit Brown. Game time is set for 2 p.m. from Providence, R.I.