Fourth quarter scoring woes lead to men’s lacrosse defeat

Lafayette+faces+off+against+rival+Lehigh+in+a+loss+that+came+down+to+a+numbers+game.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards.com%29

Lafayette faces off against rival Lehigh in a loss that came down to a numbers game. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards.com)

Colleen McNamara, Staff Writer

Over 500 fans packed Fisher Stadium to watch Lafayette (3-8 overall, 0-5 Patriot League) compete with rival #20 Lehigh last Saturday. While the Leopards were only down one goal going into the final quarter, the Mountain Hawks managed to pull out a 14-7 win. 

Lehigh has been dominant in the Eastern Pennsylvania lacrosse rivalry, winning 18 of the last 19 matchups. This recent win adds to their current winning streak of 13. 

The Leopards’ offense was led by sophomores Charlie Cunniffe, John Mathes, Connor Freeman and Peter Lehman, along with junior Cole Dutton and freshman Nick Rossi. 

“Offensively sticking to the game plan our coaches created allowed us to make opportunities to score,” sophomore attacker Kalman Kraham wrote in an email. 

Lafayette earned its first point on Saturday thanks to an unassisted goal from the 12-meter by Lehman. Lehigh quickly came back, adding three unanswered goals in the following five minutes. The first quarter ended in favor of Lehigh, 3-1. 

The Mountain Hawks opened the second quarter with a goal, but Cunniffe finished from defender Sean Rushton’s fast-break assist to put the game in reach at 4-2.

For the remainder of the quarter, the teams ping-ponged tallies with Leopard goals by Mathes and Rossi, along with a man-up completion from Cunniffe. The second quarter ended with Lehigh in the lead at 7-5, with both teams notching four goals in the quarter.

“Our offensive mindset was to just focus on ourselves. No matter if we are up or down in the game, we always want to stick to our game plan,” Mathes wrote. 

Dutton answered the Mountain Hawks’ early score in the third with an unassisted goal of his own at 10:36. The following 10 minutes were scoreless until Kraham found Freeman with just 14 seconds left in the third.  

“I think that goal was important to us as it helped keep the momentum rolling and try and cut the lead going into the fourth,” Kraham wrote.

A goal like Freeman’s boosts sophomore faceoff specialist Aidan Kelly’s confidence and adds momentum to execute the next faceoff. Kelly snagged four ground balls and earned nine of the 24 face-offs in the game.

“After we score, I become more determined to help my team get back the ball, so we can capitalize on our next possession, and hopefully our offense can go on a run,” Kelly wrote. “I knew I had to throw everything I had at [Lehigh’s FOGO].”

The Leopards outscored the Mountain Hawks 2-1 in the third quarter, but Lehigh was still up 8-7 going into the final period.

The game proceeded with the typical rivalry intensity with six penalty calls for cross-checking and unnecessary roughness from both teams.

Lehigh could not be stopped, as they finished on six of their 15 shots in the final quarter. Lafayette was unable to capitalize on any of their five scoring opportunities. 

It all came down to a numbers game as the Mountain Hawks executed on all 22 clears and found a rhythm on face-offs (15) and ground balls (28). Leopard goalie freshman Gabe Cummins kept up with the Mountain Hawks, saving 12 of their 26 shots on goal. 

Lafayette will travel to Worcester, Mass. tomorrow to face Holy Cross at 12 p.m.  

“Holy Cross is also looking for their first Patriot League win of the season, so it will be a battle,” Mathes wrote. “The rest of the guys and I are looking forward to it and another chance to get a Patriot League win.”