BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Despite falling into an early hole, the Lehigh field hockey team erupted for four goals in the span of 26 minutes to pull within 5-4, but it wasn’t enough as Saint Joseph’s held on, 6-4, on a cool Wednesday evening at Ulrich Field. Highlighting the effort was a hat trick from junior Caitlin Donnelly while senior goalkeeper Lilia Stefaniwsky impressed with 20 saves in her first start of the season.
Donnelly’s three goals marked her first-career hat trick. Junior Madison Ingal added the other marker while freshman Emily Torcivia assisted on the first goal for her first-career point.
“We showed flashes of brilliance today,” said head coach Julie Mazer. “Caitlin had an outstanding game, as did Lilia, but it takes all 11 players on the field playing 70 minutes to win.
“We didn’t start playing from the beginning,” she continued. “When we started doing things we do day-in-and day out, we were doing well. We need to be physical and aggressive from the second we hit the field.”
Lehigh quickly found itself in a 4-0 hole after Therese Doyle’s shot trickled into the cage at 27:05 of the first half.
The Mountain Hawks came right back with two late goals in the span of 2:29 to cut the deficit in half. Donnelly scored her first at 31:38, redirecting a nifty pass from Torcivia past Saint Joseph’s goalkeeper Kelly Swanick. Junior Madison Ingal then made it 4-2 when she came in all alone and beat Swanick inside the left post at 34:07.
Saint Joseph’s responded in the second half when Casey Fry tipped in a shot off a penalty corner, but once again, the Mountain Hawks responded. Donnelly netted her second at 47:30, finding the back of the cage after a scramble in front.
Her third goal came less than 10 minutes later. After two shots from senior Cassie Willard were saved by new Saint Joseph’s goalkeeper Liz Messaros, Donnelly came in to clean up the rebound and make it 5-4 with 23:47 still remaining.
Lehigh continued to pressure down the stretch, but were unable to convert and Saint Joseph’s added an insurance tally at 68:08 to seal the win.
Saint Joseph’s led the final shot count, 32-12 while it had nine corners to the Mountain Hawks’ four. Stefaniwsky finished with 20 saves while senior Lauren Cawley added a key defensive stop. Swanick, who played the first half for Saint Joseph’s, finished with one save while Messaros had four over the final 35 minutes.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Friday when they host Monmouth at 7 p.m. at Ulrich Field.
Check back Thursday morning for the postgame extra with Michael Ojo.