ANNAPOLIS, Md. —The seventh-ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team (10-1, 3-0 Patriot League) scored eight-straight goals while holding Navy (5-4, 3-2 Patriot League) scoreless for better than 40 minutes to defeat the Mids 9-4 on Friday evening at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The Mountain Hawks are winners of a nation’s-best nine in a row, while Navy had its winning streak snapped at four.
“I really have to tip my hat off to Lehigh,” said Navy first-year head coach Rick Sowell. “They are a heck of a team.
“We had a 4-1 lead and just couldn’t build on it. We gave a few back right before the half which was a big momentum swing. We got a little sloppy in the third quarter and just couldn’t get it to swing back our way.”
Lehigh put the first point on the board when senior midfielder Roman Lao-Gosney beat Navy defensive middie Cade Norris (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) and tucked his shot just under the crossbar on the right side at the 11:51 mark in the first.
Navy, despite missing two point-blank shots early in the game, regrouped and scored three-straight goals over a minute and 18 seconds, including the equalizer at 10:22 when second-line midfielder Erik Hoffstadt (Dover, Del.) used a crossover step to beat Lehigh senior defender Blaise Fullen on an unassisted tally. Senior attackman Taylor Reynolds (Babylon, N.Y.) gave the Mids their first lead, taking a pass from junior midfielder Bryce Dabbs (Damascus, Md.) and dodging the defense before sticking it in. Senior Logan West (Berlin, Md.) was awarded the win on the ensuing faceoff due to an infraction by Lehigh’s Ryan Snyder. West took off with the ball and fired in his third goal of the season just five seconds after the Reynolds goal to give the Mids a 3-1 lead after the first quarter of action.
The Mids built a 4-1 lead three minutes into the second period when Dabbs found sophomore attackman Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.) who managed to thread his shot between the post and freshman goalkeeper Matthew Poillon.
Remarkably, Navy would be without a goal for the rest of the game, as the Mountain Hawks’ No.1-ranked defense suffocated the Mids. After outshooting Lehigh 10-2 in the opening quarter, Navy would fire off just 13 shots over the final three quarters and seven in the second half. Lehigh came into the game surrendering just 5.6 goals per game, giving up double digits only once this season.
“I’m not so sure I’ve seen a defense as strong as them for quite awhile,” added Sowell. “It’s a combination of scheme and personnel. They are big and athletic and it seemed like every time you tried to go to the goal, someone was there taking it away. Almost everything thing we tried, they stood up to the task. This wasn’t just against us, look at what they have done all year long.”
“Their defense was very frustrating to play against,” added Reynolds. “We can’t have the defense dictating what we do as an offense and that’s what we allowed them to do in the second half.”
Lehigh began pecking away at its three-goal deficit by scoring a pair of goals to close out the first half trailing Navy by just one at 4-3. The second of the two goals was a matter of Patrick Corbett being in the right place at the right time. Navy senior goalkeeper RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) kick saved a shot by Lehigh’s Brian Hess, sending it back into center of the playing field right to Corbett who picked it up and punched it in.
Navy began the second half a man down after junior defenseman Austin Miller (North Bethesda, Md.) was flagged for a hold with under five seconds to play in the half. Once again Corbett was the beneficiary of a saved shot by Wickham who was unable to coral the ball. Corbett scooped up the loose ball and scored the extra-man tally 27 seconds into the third quarter, knotting the game up at four-all.
Lehigh took the lead for good at the 11:41 mark in the third when junior attackman Dante Fantoni set up fellow attackman Adam Johnston on a perfectly-executed play on the crease.
The Mountain Hawks scored twice more to hold a 7-4 lead after three quarters of play. Navy got off just three shots in the third stanza which saw perhaps its best opportunity, a shot by Hull curling around the crease, bounce off the near-side post and into the stick of a Lehigh defenseman with two minutes to go.
Lehigh added a pair of goals in the fourth, including the third of the game by Corbett, to salt away the game.
Corbett led all scorers with three goals and an assist, while Fantoni scored a goal and dealt out a pair of assists for the Mountain Hawks.
Reynolds, Hull, Hoffstadt and West recorded goals for the Midshipmen who were shut out in a half for the first time since last year’s season-ending loss to Johns Hopkins who held Navy off the scoreboard until the 11:37 mark in the third quarter.
While Wickham gave up nine goals, he was stout in the cage, keeping the Midshipmen in charge in the first half with five spectacular saves. He ended the game with eight stops.
West won eight of the 14 draws he took, including four in a row in the opening quarter, but cooled off, winning just four of the remaining 10 he took.
The Midshipmen will be back in action next Friday when they make the short trip to College Park to face No. 9 Maryland. Game time is set for 7:00 pm at Byrd Stadium.