BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team erupted for nine unanswered second-half goals to break the game wide open, on its way to an impressive 16-7 season-opening win over Saint Joseph’s on Saturday. The 16 goals mark the most Lehigh has scored against the Hawks since 1998. Leading the way offensively was sophomore Dante Fantoni, who posted a career-high six points via five goals and an assist.
"You have to commend our seniors for getting these guys ready to play today,” said head coach Kevin Cassese. “There was a tremendous amount of energy out there. As you can see through the stats, we dominated all the hustle stats. I was really impressed by that."
Fantoni’s five goals paced the offensive attack, while fellow sophomore David DiMaria scored a career-high three goals and junior Cameron Lao-Gosney posted his fifth-career hat trick. Senior Jonathan Stumpf also tied a career-high with four points (two goals, two assists) while sophomore Alex Drake chipped in with three points behind a goal and two assists.
"I thought the attack played really well for us,” said Cassese. “DiMaria, Fantoni and Cameron Lao-Gosney were dominant, combining for 12 total points. Those guys made a big impact."
A strong Lehigh defense, led by senior Richard Bradley, stifled the Saint Joseph’s attack, allowing only 12 shots on goal while holding the Hawks scoreless for the first 22:32 of the second half. Bradley finished the afternoon with three ground balls and a team-high two caused turnovers.
Sophomore Ryan Snyder and senior Will Scudder were dominant at the faceoff X, winning 21-of-26 draws led by Snyder’s 17-of-21. Snyder also scooped up a career-high 11 groundballs.
Sophomore Dan Carr finished with five saves in goal before being relieved by junior Conor Murphy in the final minute.
Lehigh jumped on Saint Joseph’s early, converting the game’s first goal - a DiMaria unassisted tally - barely over a minute into the game at 13:53. The Hawks came back to even the score at 9:30, but that was the closest they would get. The Mountain Hawks answered with four of the next five goals, including two from Fantoni in a 14-second span, to make it 5-2 with 57 seconds on the first-quarter clock.
Saint Joseph’s bounced back in the second quarter to outscore Lehigh, 3-1, including one as the first-half clock was winding down to pull within 6-5 at the break.
The Mountain Hawks came out of the locker room with a vengeance as Fantoni, DiMaria and Bradley all scored within a span of 2:11 to make it 9-5. The run continued as DiMaria added his hat trick goal with 8:19 remaining and Lao-Gosney converted his second with 6:41 on the clock to make it 11-5.
The run eventually became 9-0 behind a Stumpf goal with 8:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Saint Joseph’s answered with two straight markers, but Fantoni capped off the afternoon with his career-high tying fifth goal at 3:56 of the fourth quarter.
Lehigh led the final shot count, 43-23, while it also had 42 ground balls to 25 for Saint Joseph’s. The Mountain Hawks were successful on 12-of-14 clears to Saint Joseph’s 12-of-17. Lehigh finished 0-for-2 on man-up opportunities while Saint Joseph's was 0-for-3.
The Mountain Hawks return to action next Saturday (Feb. 19) when they travel to Villanova to face the Wildcats. Lehigh returns to the Ulrich Sports Complex on Tuesday, Mar. 1 for its Patriot League opener against Navy. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.