Posted: March 25, 2005
Bethlehem, PA – Lehigh played tough and it played with passion, but in the end the No. 6 ranked Navy Midshipmen were just too much for the Mountain Hawks to overcome, as Lehigh fell 11-5 in front of a raucous crowd at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
Alec Hoof scored the game’s first goal and had the home crowd rocking, but Lehigh was ultimately done in a by a scoreless second quarter when the Mids found the back of the net four times.
With the loss, the Brown and White falls to 5-3 on the season, 0-2 in league play, while Navy now sits at 6-1 overall, and 3-1 in league action.
After Hoof scored the game’s first goal at the mark, Jon Birsner found the back of the net one minute later to tie the contest at one. Ben Horn would then put the Midshipmen up 2-1, but David Walsh scored the first of his two goals with to go in the quarter and the score was knotted at two.
In the second quarter, Graham Gill, Birsner, Horn and Nick Mirabito all scored goals for the Midshipmen who took a 6-2 lead into halftime. Mirabito then scored the first goal of the second half at the mark off of an assist from Birsner and Lehigh trailed 7-2.
Blake Best then helped Lehigh crawl its way back into the game, as he deposited a pass from Hoof in the back of the net to trim the Navy lead down to four at 7-3. Birsner answered again for Navy with his third score of the night, but David Gaunt ripped a shot from near midfield as time expired in the quarter, and sent the Mountain Hawks into the fourth down by just four, at 8-4.
Chris Pieczonka opened the fourth quarter scoring just six seconds in to put Navy up 9-4, but Walsh scored his tenth goal of the season with remaining and the Mountain Hawks once again had life. However, Billy Looney and Mirabito would tack on two more scored for the Mids to sew up the 11-5 victory.
Lehigh was out shot 42-21 on the evening, while Navy had 27 ground balls to Lehigh’s 20. Tom Weiss won nine of 19 face-offs on the night against Navy’s Chris Pieczonka, who came into the game as one of the top face-off men in America, and as a team the Mids were second coming into tonight in all of the United States in that category.
Eric Spirko played a brilliant game in goal for the Brown and White, as he stopped 12 shots on the evening, and for Navy Matt Russell sent back seven Lehigh shots. Jeff King and Spirko led the Mountain Hawks with four ground balls each on the evening, while Navy’s Pieczonka scooped up six in the game.
Head Coach Chris Wakely is pleased with the way his team fought against the sixth ranked team in America. “I think it’s bittersweet because you never want to lose, but I am happy with the way we played tonight, the way we fought. They (Navy) are athletic, they’re fast, and they’re a very well coached team. But we knew coming in that we could compete with them and we did just that.”
Wakely continued, “We had a solid week of practice, we just weren’t as sharp in certain areas that we needed to be. But I think we can show the true character of this team with the way we bounce back from this loss.”
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday, April 2 when the Mountain Hawks travel to Lewisburg to take on No. 17 Bucknell. Game time is scheduled for .
Photos (c) 2005, Walt Young. Used with permission.