Posted: 03/04/2013 | Last updated: March 4, 2013 at 02:43 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Following a dominant 16-goal win over VMI Saturday, the #17/19 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team begins a big week on Tuesday when it hosts #18 Penn for a 7 p.m. faceoff at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks face a pair of intrastate rivals and nationally-ranked squads this week in Penn Tuesday and #12/13 Penn State at PPL Park Saturday.
Tuesday’s game will mark game two of a lacrosse doubleheader as the Lehigh women’s team will host Delaware at 4 p.m.
Lehigh is coming off an impressive 18-2 win over VMI Saturday, its largest margin of victory since 1999. Four Mountain Hawks paced the way with hat tricks while the defense held the Keydets scoreless for the game’s first 27:17 then the next 22:34 and the final 10:09. Senior Griffin Farha made nine saves in goal in his first start since 2011 while classmate Dan Carr came in to make two stops down the stretch.
Senior David DiMaria posted his third seven-point game of the young season, finishing with three goals and four assists. Senior Chris Rinaldi scored his first-career goal in the first quarter, and turned that into a hat trick of his own, while sophomore Dan Taylor and senior Kyle Stiefel each posted their second career hat tricks. Lehigh outshot VMI 24-3 in the third quarter and finished with a 58-22 shot advantage for the game.
The Lehigh-Penn rivalry was renewed last season, a 10-4 Mountain Hawks’ victory which helped spring them to their historic 2012 campaign. The following game, Lehigh upset #4 North Carolina to earn a spot in the national rankings for the first time. Penn struggled through much of last season, but is off to a flying start this year. The Quakers are 2-1, including a 14-9 win over #14 Duke and 6-5 victory over Saint Joseph’s along with a slim 15-12 loss at Denver, currently ranked #7 in this week’s polls.
The Mountain Hawks look to improve to 3-0 at home this season and win at home for the eighth time in their last nine tries dating back to last season. The last time Penn and Lehigh played in Bethlehem, the Mountain Hawks took home a 14-8 win in 2005.
Lehigh is looking to beat the Quakers for a second straight time, which would mark its first two-game winning streak over Penn since winning five straight from 1924 to 1943. The Mountain Hawks are vying for their first win over a nationally-ranked foe. Their first win over a ranked foe last season was Penn; Lehigh went on to win eight games against teams ranked at the time of the game.
Penn enters with a 2-1 record owning wins over Duke and Saint Joseph’s and a tight 15-12 loss at Denver. Tim Schwalje leads the Quakers’ offense with 13 points behind seven goals and six assists. Zack Loco, Isaac Bock and Drew Belinsky all follow with six points apiece. Danny Feeney leads the team in groundballs with 14 as the primary option at the faceoff X (23-of-45 on the season). Brian Feeney has played every minute in goal and owns a 9.67 GAA and 50.0 save percentage. Penn is 38 percent on man-up so far (3-of-8) while killing off just four of eight opponent attempts.
Penn leads the all-time series 26-22 which dates all the way back to 1891. Lehigh won 18 of the first 23 meetings through 1950 while the Quakers have responded. Most recently, Penn won 13 in a row before Lehigh’s 14-8 win in 2005. The sides met last season for the first time since 2007 as the Mountain Hawks were victorious 10-4. Lehigh won the last game at the Ulrich Sports Complex, 14-8 in 2005.
Following Tuesday’s game, Lehigh will head to PPL Park for the Whitman’s Sampler Independence Classic against #12/13 Penn State on Saturday at 5 p.m. That game follows St. John’s vs. Syracuse at 12 p.m. and Penn vs. Villanova at 2:30 p.m. All three games will air on ESPN3.
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