Posted: 02/23/2013 | Last updated: February 24, 2013 at 07:13 PM
DENVER, Colo. - The #8/12 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team took a 7-6 halftime lead at #11 Denver, but the Pioneers exploded for 12 second-half goals to down the Mountain Hawks, 18-10 in the Frontier Face-Off Classic. Sophomore Dan Taylor posted his first-career hat trick, and an assist for a career-high four points, while senior David DiMaria dished four assists. Lehigh will return to action in less than 24 hours when it faces an Air Force squad which improved to 3-1 after beating Canisius on Saturday.
“Give a lot of credit to Coach Tierney and the Denver team,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “I thought both teams played hard, especially through three quarters then they stepped on the gas in the fourth and put us away.”
Sophomore Kurtis Kaunas added a career-high two goals while senior Brian Hess had a goal and assist for his fifth-career multi-point game.
With the loss, the Mountain Hawks fall to 2-1 while Denver improves to 2-1. The Pioneers have faced three ranked teams in as many games this season.
Denver jumped on Lehigh in the early going, taking first-quarter leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3, but the Mountain Hawks fought back to even the score after a quarter. Taylor’s first goal of the game knotted the score at three with 4:50 on the clock while senior Kyle Stiefel made it 4-4 with 1:50 remaining.
Early second-quarter goals by Kaunas and Taylor gave Lehigh a 6-4 advantage. The teams traded scores as Taylor scored his hat trick goal with 8:09 left in the second quarter (his second goal in the span of 2:41) to make it 7-5. Eric Law pulled Denver within 7-6 with 7:59 remaining, then the defenses buckled down the rest of the half as that score stood heading into the locker room.
The Pioneers surged out of the locker room, taking an 8-7 lead before Fantoni took a feed from DiMaria and beat Denver goalie Jamie Faus, who finished the third quarter with three of his eight saves. Denver took a 10-8 lead before sophomore Patrick Corbett buried his first goal of the season (again from DiMaria). However, Denver’s Erik Adamson scored with just one second left in the third quarter to make it 11-9 after three quarters of play.
Lehigh had its chances early in the fourth quarter, including a man-up opportunity looking to pull within one, but the Mountain Hawks couldn’t capitalized and the Pioneers responded with six goals in the span of 6:11 to put the game away.
“They’re a terrific offense so credit should go to them,” said Cassese. “We just gave them too many opportunities. We played about two thirds of the game on defense because we struggled to win faceoffs and turned the ball over on offense. Our defense was really tired and their offense is really good. That combination is never a good thing.”
Final shots were 34-28 in favor of Denver while the Pioneers held a 41-27 edge in groundballs. The Mountain Hawks won just 14-of-31 faceoffs. Lehigh was 0-for-2 on the extra man while Denver finished 2-for-6. Sophomore Matt Poillon made six saves over the first 53:16 before being relieved by freshman Steve Brodeur. Faus made eight stops in his first start of the season.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Sunday when they wrap up their west-coast stay against Air Force at 1 p.m. EST.
“When you play back to back games, it’s really interesting to see how your team responds, win or lose,” said Cassese. “This was a big game, so whether you have a big win or less, you have to collect yourself and put a good performance on for day two. We’re going to play an Air Force team that’s going to be a tough squad. They play hard and play together. We’ll have to lick our wounds here for about an hour then got ourselves ready to go for tomorrow.”
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