Posted: March 1, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Behind a nine-goal second half performance Lehigh raced past Holy Cross 10-5 on Saturday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex in the 2008 Patriot League opener. With the win, the Mountain Hawks 18th straight over the previously unbeaten Crusaders, Lehigh improves to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in league play while Holy Cross falls to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in league play. Ricky Cornetta and Fred Cassilly led the way on offense for the Brown and White scoring a combined seven goals as Lehigh out shot Holy Cross by an astounding 46-16 margin.
“They’re a good team, they’re very well-coached,” Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese said afterwards. “It took us some time to get going on the offensive end and to put anything past their outstanding goal keeper, but our guys battled; they played hard.” Cassese continued, “Our defense was impressive, causing turnovers and starting our transition game by making opportunities. In goal, Eric Spriko had another solid game.”
Cassese then spoke of how the younger Mountain Hawks handled the Patriot League opener. “We’re still learning, it’s a process for them. But they’re starting to get it, they’re beginning to understand what we want from them.”
Lehigh scooped up 36 ground balls on the afternoon led by Stuart Baxter’s six, while classmate Tom Allen added five. Baxter won nine-of-15 face offs, and the Mountain Hawks forced 12 turnovers led by Allen’s five. Cornetta unleashed a team best 16 shots, and Max Dahlem registered 13 of his own. Spirko finished five saves and three ground balls for the Brown and White in goal. Lehigh was a perfect three-of-three on man-up opportunities, with all three scores coming the third quarter.
The Crusaders scooped up 26 ground balls as a team led by James Malone and Conor McKenna with four apiece. Holy Cross goal keeper Jimmy Harrison, the Patriot League’s reigning goalkeeper of the week, stopped 13 Lehigh shots on the afternoon and scooped up three ground balls of his own. The Crusaders were two-of-five on extra man opportunities, scoring once in the first and another in the fourth quarter.
Things started slow for the Mountain Hawks as they scored just once in the opening half, when Cornetta took a feed from Cassilly and found the back of the net with just 23 ticks remaining in the second quarter. That made the score 2-1 as the teams retired for halftime.
The second half was a completely different story as both offenses came to life. Lehigh dominated the third quarter scoring all four goals, including two from Cassilly, one from Dahlem and the first collegiate goal for freshman Brian Smith. That gave the Brown and White a 5-2 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
Holy Cross scored two quick goals to put within one at 5-4 with 13:30 left in the contest. The Mountain Hawks did not lose their composure though and ripped off three straight scores, including two from Cornetta and one more from Dahlem in the span of 2:09. That put the home team in front 8-4 at the 9:04 mark.
Chris Smirti took a feed from Edison Parzanese and brought the Crusaders to within three scores however at the 8:26 mark. But Lehigh responded yet again, with back-to-back scores one Cornetta and Cassilly to put the game out or reach.
Lehigh returns to action on Tuesday when the Mountain Hawks travel to take on No. 2 Duke in North Carolina. Game time is set for 7:00 and all of the action will be shown at ACCselect.com.