BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Following a dominating season-opening win over Saint Joseph’s, the #10/11 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team heads to Villanova on Saturday to face the Wildcats. Opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m. The Mountain Hawks fell to Villanova 17-7 in their home opener last season. Since, they’ve gone 13-2 which included their first ever Patriot League Tournament Title and NCAA Tournament appearance.
Senior David DiMaria led the offense against Saint Joseph’s with a career-high six goals and an assist. After more than 13 minutes of scoreless lacrosse, he scored at 1:48 of the first quarter then added his second just 1:01 later. That got Lehigh’s offense going as it scored three in the second quarter, five in the third and four more in the fourth for the dominating 14-1 victory. Senior Dante Fantoni tied a career high with three assists while adding two goals. Sophomore Dan Taylor posted a career-high tying two goals and an assist as the starting attack accounted for 10 of the 14 goals.
The defense was just as impressive, shutting out Saint Joseph’s for the first 33:27 before allowing its first (and only) goal. Sophomore Matt Poillon stopped eight-of-nine shots sent his way to earn Patriot League Goalie of the Week honors, already his seventh career weekly award. Junior All-American Ty Souders anchored the defense which included several individual highlights. Sophomore long-stick midfielder Dylan O’Shaughnessy set career highs in both groundballs (3) and caused turnovers (2), senior short-stick D middie Noah Molnar had two groundballs and two caused turnovers while freshman Tripp Telesco started his first-career game at close defense, scooping three groundballs.
The 13-goal margin of victory marked Lehigh’s largest in a season opener since a 22-goal (25-3) win over VMI to begin 1997 DiMaria’s six goals were most by a single player in Kevin Cassese’s tenure as Lehigh head coach.
The Mountain Hawks have now won four straight season openers and five of their last six. With a win against Villanova Saturday, Lehigh would improve to 2-0 after two games for the first time since 2000 when it beat Air Force and Towson to begin the season. The Mountain Hawks are also eying their first win at Villanova since 1997, a 17-9 victory. Lehigh has dropped six straight at Villanova since. Lehigh has won eight of its last nine road games overall dating back to the beginning of last season.
Saturday marks Villanova’s season opener. The Wildcats began last season 3-0 with big wins over Lehigh, Bucknell and Drexel, but struggled from that point forward, going just 5-7 the rest of the way and falling shy of its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Villanova graduated leading point-getter Kevin Cunningham, but return leading scorer Jack Rice. Will Casertano is the leading returning point-getter with 37 points a season ago (17 goals, 20 assists). Starting goalie Dan Gutierrez also graduated. Villanova has struggled in goal, posting a save percentage of just 45.9 a season ago. The team’s top faceoff specialist Thomas Croonquist returns after winning 140-of-232 a season ago (60.3 percent).
Villanova leads the all-time series 17-12 including wins in two straight and three of the last four. The Wildcats dominated last year’s meeting 17-7, which promptly sparked Lehigh on a nine-game winning streak and its best season in school history. The Mountain Hawks dropped a slim 9-8 final in their last trip to Villanova. The teams have met in 17 of the last 18 years (all but 2006). The first meeting between the two sides came in 1977, a 5-4 Villanova victory. Lehigh responded with wins in the next four.
Lehigh heads to Denver next weekend to face the #8/9 Pioneers on Saturday and Air Force on Sunday as part of the Face-Off Classic.
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