Following a hard-fought 12-7 defeat to Navy on Saturday, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team remains home on Tuesday for a nonleague showdown against No. 12 Stony Brook. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks struggled to gain possession on Saturday and were outshot 50-28, which proved too much to overcome.
Lehigh enjoyed a strong start on Saturday, taking a 2-1 lead after one quarter of play. Navy scored less than one minute in, but sophomore Ian Strain and senior Billy Oppenheimer responded with goals and the Mountain Hawks’ defense held the Mids scoreless for the next 17:28 until early in the second quarter. Navy went on to stage 4-0 runs in the second and third quarters to create separation and earn the victory.
Freshman long-stick midfielder Craig Chick enjoyed a strong all-around game on Saturday, tallying his first-career goal, a career-high two assists, five groundballs and two caused turnovers while also winning three faceoffs. Senior Reid Weber led the offense with two goals and an assist while Strain scored a career-high two goals to go with three groundballs and a career-high two caused turnovers. Oppenheimer and sophomore John Mehok scored Lehigh’s other goals. Freshman Tristan Rai was held without a goal for the first time in his young career, firing a shot that looked ticketed for the back of the net, but Navy goalie John Connors made an impressive save. Connors was strong on the afternoon, making 13 saves, nine coming in the second half, which included many strong stops. Navy faceoff specialist Brady Dove won 14-of-19 draws, which played a major factor in the game.
Chick, Strain and freshman Eddie Bouhall led the defense with two caused turnovers apiece while senior Tripp Telesco also scooped five groundballs. Freshman goaltender Chris Kiernan continued to impress, making a career-high 14 saves including seven in the third quarter as he owns a 9.06 GAA and .596 save percentage on the season.
The loss marked Lehigh’s first home defeat in more than a calendar year, the last being vs. Army West Point on Mar. 21, 2015. The Mountain Hawks bounced back from that 7-5 defeat to win the next five home games (vs. Princeton, Lafayette, NJIT, Holy Cross and Colgate). Lehigh will face a strong Stony Brook team on Tuesday, one year after earning a hard-fought 12-11 win over the Seawolves to hand them just their third loss of the season. Like last year, Lehigh will face Stony Brook when it has just two losses.
The Mountain Hawks’ coaching staff features multiple connections with Stony Brook. Associate head coach Errol Wilson is a Stony Brook alumnus and four-year member of the lacrosse team while head coach Kevin Cassese began his coaching career at Stony Brook as an assistant coach in 2004. Cassese directed the nation’s top extra-man offense and helped the Seawolves to a 10-6 record that season.
Stony Brook is 6-2 on the season, winners of four of its last five games. The Seawolves earned a pair of big wins over nationally-ranked foes Rutgers and Hofstra while their two losses came against ranked foes Brown and Albany. Matt Schultz leads the offense with 36 points behind 21 goals and 15 assists while Challen Rogers has tallied 28 points (nine goals, team-leading 19 assists) and Alex Corpolongo owns 23 (21 goals, two assists). In total, five Stony Brook players have tallied 20 or more points. Faceoff specialist Jay Lindsay has won 94-of-184 of his draws (51.1 percent) on the season and owns a team-leading 36 groundballs. Ben Randall has a team-leading 12 caused turnovers while UMass transfer Zach Oliveri has started all eight games in goal, recording a 9.75 GAA and .524 save percentage. The Seawolves have scored 13.25 goals per game, which stands sixth in the nation.
Lehigh’s thrilling 12-11 win at Stony Brook last April pulled the Mountain Hawks within 7-6 in the all-time series. The series has been full of streaks. Prior to Lehigh’s win, Stony Brook had won four straight right after Lehigh won five in a row. Tuesday will mark the first meeting at Lehigh since Apr. 12, 2006, a 12-8 Seawolves’ victory. The first-ever meeting between the two sides came in 1990, a 12-9 Stony Brook win.
Following Tuesday’s game, Lehigh hits the road on Saturday to face No. 20 Boston University at 12:30 p.m. The Mountain Hawks return home the following Saturday (Apr. 9) to host Loyola at 2 p.m. in Goodman Stadium.