Posted: 02/23/2012 | Last updated: February 24, 2012 at 11:29 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team looks to bounce back from a tough loss to #10 Villanova when it hosts Manhattan on Saturday at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Opening faceoff is set for 2 p.m. The Mountain Hawks look to get back in the win column against the Jaspers, who have yet to play in 2012. Saturday marks Lehigh’s final home game in 22 days as the squad embarks on a three-game road trip at #17 Penn, #4 North Carolina and VMI before returning home to host #18 Yale on Mar. 11.
Following a convincing win at Saint Joseph’s in their opener, the Mountain Hawks struggled against a strong Villanova squad, ranked 10th in the preseason polls. Lehigh tied the score at one following a Roman Lao-Gosney goal, but the Wildcats reeled off six straight to take a 7-1 advantage. The Mountain Hawks did cut the lead in half, scoring three goals in a 2:10 span to get right back into the game, but it wasn’t enough.
Canadian freshmen Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett each posted their first-career points in the loss. Taylor had a strong game with two goals and an assist while Corbett added a goal and assist; senior Kevin Donovan contributed a career-high two points (goal, assist) as well. Junior Dante Fantoni dished out a pair of assists - both on the extra man - in a 16-second span.
Freshman goaltender Matt Poillon finished with 12 saves, his second double-digit save performance in as many games. Junior Ryan Snyder won 10 faceoffs with eight groundballs while sophomore Ryan Buttenbaum impressed in winning 5-of-7 with two groundballs.
Villanova marked the first of four 2011 NCAA Tournament teams Lehigh will face, with three coming in a four-game span. Following Manhattan, the Mountain Hawks travel to Penn, then North Carolina who each earned at-large berths into the tournament.
Picked sixth in the MAAC preseason poll, Manhattan is coming off a 3-13 season. The Jaspers played, and hung relatively tough, against some of the nation’s elite teams last season, including Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Villanova and Hofstra, among others. Three of the team’s top four leading scorers return, led by Brendan Rogers (24 points: 12 goals, 12 assists), Brian McGrath (22: 13, 9) and Tyler Jarvis (21: 16, 5). Goalie Rich Akapnitis saw most of the action last year and returns after posting an 11.39 GAA and 50.6 save percentage in 2011. The Jaspers struggled offensively last season, scoring only 7.38 goals per game while giving up 10.88.
Lehigh and Manhattan have played only once in the past with the Jaspers winning, 7-6 in 2002.
Lehigh will hit the road for three straight away from home, beginning on Tuesday at #17 Penn before heading to #4 North Carolina next Saturday. The Mountain Hawks will then wrap up their trip at VMI on Mar. 6 before returning to the Ulrich Sports Complex to host #18 Yale on Sunday, Mar. 11.