The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team fought back from a 12-7 deficit to pull within one, but it couldn’t net the equalizer as No. 15 Penn State walked away with a 12-11 win on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Junior Kelly Draper led the Mountain Hawks (8-6, 3-1 Patriot League) with four goals and five points while senior Allison Thomas added three and Lauren Dykstra posted two.
This marks the second-straight year that the Mountain Hawks dropped a one-goal final to the Nittany Lions.
“Very disappointing game,” said Lehigh associate head coach Kelley Putnam. “We’re proud of the girls for fighting back from down five, but it shows what we have to work on heading into a big Patriot League game this weekend [at Holy Cross].”
Freshman goalie Alexandra Fitzpatrick was the story in the early going, making three big saves before Penn State got on the scoreboard at 23:50. The Nittany Lions went on to open up a 4-0 lead before Lehigh’s first goal at 19:48. That was scored by Draper, who made a move at the top of the circle and went in all the way for the score.
After Jen Steadman answered at 18:19, the Mountain Hawks responded with three straight, one by sophomore Megan Kelly and two straight from senior Allison Thomas. That pulled Lehigh within 5-4 with 12:09 remaining.
Penn State went on to score the next two goals bridging the end of the first and beginning of the second to take a 7-4 advantage with 29:08 remaining. The Mountain Hawks answered, however with two of the next three goals, from Kelly and freshman Julie Tatios to pull as close as 8-6 with 24:42 remaining.
The Nittany Lions answered with three straight goals and four of the next, however as it looked like they would start pulling away. Steadman’s fourth goal of the game gave Penn State its largest lead, 12-7 with 19:12 on the clock.
But Lehigh began to stage a furious comeback, netting four straight scores, which included single goals from Dykstra and Thomas and two from Draper. Draper’s second in a 3:47 span made it 12-11 with 6:22 remaining, but Penn State won the ensuing draw and held the ball until less than a minute remaining.
The Mountain Hawks eventually caused a turnover with under a minute to go, but they turned it over before getting it into the offensive end. Lehigh actually caused another late turnover with under 20 seconds remaining. That was followed by as a last-second desperation attempt, which went well high.
Lehigh led the final shot count, 26-25, and groundballs, 25-20. Penn State held a 15-10 edge in draw controls. Fitzpatrick finished with 10 saves, her fourth double-digit save performance in her last six games, while Nittany Lion goalkeeper Dana Cahill made six.
The Mountain Hawks wrap up the regular season with two big league games, against Holy Cross on Saturday and Navy the following Saturday (Apr. 23).