POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team opened the 2011 season in style on Saturday, topping defending MAAC Champion and NCAA Tournament qualifier Marist, 13-8, on Saturday afternoon. A total team effort was led by senior Lauren Dykstra, who netted five goals, three coming in the second half to help the Mountain Hawks gain separation.
Saturday marked Dykstra’s 15th career game with five or more goals. She was strong on both ends of the field, also posting four caused turnovers and scooping a ground ball. She finished a perfect 3-for-3 on free position opportunities.
“I thought for a first game, our first time out there, we played extremely well,” said head coach Jill Redfern. “We fought hard. All in all, we’re very happy with our effort.”
Lehigh jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead before Marist responded with four of the final six goals of the first half to cut the lead to 7-5 after 30 minutes. But the Mountain Hawks bounced back with four of the first five goals in the second to erase any doubt.
Sophomore Megan Kelly impressed with her fourth-career hat trick, this coming on only four shots. Junior Kelly Draper was stellar with four points via two goals and two assists. Draper and senior Allison Thomas tied for the game-high with four ground balls apiece while freshmen Taylor Cummins and Gwen Gummersall and sophomore Julie McBrien finished with three. Junior Lauren Murray was a force on draw controls, recording four on the afternoon to tie a career high.
Freshman goalie Alexandra Fitzpatrick made five saves in her collegiate debut. In front of her was junior Anna Pierce, who was stellar on close defense. She shut down reigning MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Kelly Condon, holding her to only a single assist. McBrien shut down one of Marist’s top attackers in the second half, holding Ariel Kramer scoreless after she netted three in the first stanza.
“Getting the first win is huge,” said Redfern. “Balanced scoring and contributions from all over the field was something we were looking for today.”
Lehigh got off to the fast start when Dykstra converted her first free position shot of the afternoon at 25:16. McBrien made it 2-0 just over five minutes later. Then, after a Marist goal, Dykstra recorded her second to give the Mountain Hawks a 3-1 advantage at 18:01.
The run continued as Thomas and Kelly each found the back of the cage to make it 5-1 at 12:57, but Marist responded with two straight and four of the last six in the first half (all in a span of 6:34), to pull within 7-5 at the break.
Any doubt was erased in the second when the Mountain Hawks came right back with two straight of their own. After more than eight minutes without a score, freshman Chelsea Retaleato recorded her first-career goal at 21:41 off an assist from Draper. Dykstra added her hat trick goal only 1:32 later to make it 9-5 Lehigh.
The Red Foxes made it 9-6 following a Jamie Romano goal, but that was the closest they would come. The teams went back and forth from that point forward with the Mountain Hawks opening a five-goal cushion before Marist pulled within four on three occasions. Dykstra capped off the victory with her fifth goal, an unassisted tally, good for the 13-8 final.
Lehigh held the final shot edge, 29-21, while leading in ground balls as well, 25-11. The Mountain Hawks were an impressive 11-of-13 on clear attempts while turning the ball over only 11 times. Marist held a slight 13-10 edge in draw controls.
The Mountain Hawks return home for their first home game of the season, against Delaware on Feb. 26. Gametime is set for 1 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.