Men’s lacrosse falls in close battle to Loyola

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Sophomore attacker Charlie Cunniffe scans the defense as he looks for an opportunity to score on Loyola. (Photo taken by Hannah Ally for GoLeopards)

Eric Ponieman, Contributing Writer

The first in-conference game of the men’s lacrosse team’s 2022 campaign ended in a 14-12 loss to Loyola on Saturday. Lafayette was looking for revenge against a team that cruised to an 11-7 victory against them last April at Fisher field.

“I felt great going into the first Patriot League game of the season,” sophomore attacker Peter Lehman said. “We knew we had a tough opponent in front of us, and that we needed to prepare with discipline in order to compete with them.”

Loyola got started quickly, netting three goals in the first quarter while the Leopards could only muster one. This was key because all of the Leopard’s wins so far this season have come when they controlled the first quarter. 

After the Greyhounds finished the first quarter on top 3-1, Lafayette scored two early in the second period to tie the game up at 3-3. Those goals came from Lehman and sophomore midfielder John Mathes.

Loyola answered with two goals of its own before senior midfielder Cole Dutton beat the halftime buzzer and scored a goal to put the score at 5-4 in favor of Loyola going into the break. 

Lehman scored a whopping 20 goals in his freshman season, earning him the distinction of Patriot League Rookie of the Year. He is only the second player to earn this award in program history.

Lehman is currently ranked in the Patriot League top 10 for both goals per game and points per game after a formidable start to the season. In addition, he is second in the league for man-up goals per game.

“I feel more mature, and the game has slowed down for me this year,” Lehman said. “Taking everything in as a freshman can definitely be overwhelming, but credit to my coaches and all the leaders on our team for helping me settle in and prepare for my sophomore season.”

The offensive floodgates opened in the third quarter as both teams scored at least double the amount they had scored in the first quarter to make the score 11-8. Lafayette received offensive contributions from Mathes once again, junior midfielder Macklin Fitzpatrick and sophomore attackers Carter Cecil and Charlie Cunniffe.

Loyola went on a run to begin the fourth quarter to make the score 13-8, but from there Lafayette began to mount a comeback. 

Sophomore attacker Kalman Kraham joined Mathes in notching a pair of goals in the fourth quarter, giving the Maroon and White one last push before the final whistle blew. The two combined for four goals in the last 1o minutes of the game.

The Leopards were ultimately unable to overcome the deficit, however.

“It was a close match on Saturday, which is what we expect from every Patriot League game,” Mathes said. “Loyola is a talented and well-rounded squad, and they’re a top team in the conference year in and year out. The coaches did a great job crafting a game plan for us and the scout guys did a great job giving everyone an accurate look at what our opposition was going to do.”

Mathes ended the game with four goals and as the highest-scoring Leopard of the afternoon.

Senior goalie Ryan Ness marked a season-high 10 saves on Saturday afternoon. He also faced a season-high of 44 shots in the game, which highlights Lafayette’s defensive struggles against the Greyhounds. 

“We have a ton of areas that we can work on. In any given week, regardless of whether we just won or lost, we need to put in the work to prepare for our next opponent,” Lehman said. “Nothing is different this time around.”

Army will visit Easton for another Patriot League clash tomorrow at 12 p.m.