BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The 13th ranked Penn State women’s lacrosse team scored the game’s first nine goals and wouldn’t look back to down Lehigh,15-3, on a chilly Wednesday evening at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks (7-7) got goals from juniors Megan Kelly, Julie McBrien and Alissa Hardiman while classmate MaryLeah DiNisco made seven saves between the pipes. Lehigh will now look ahead to a big Patriot League showdown Saturday afternoon against Holy Cross.
“Credit to Penn State,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. “They’re a deep, strong and athletic team, but we didn’t play well tonight. We had a very disappointing performance. A lot of our mistakes showed up. We really paid the price for lack of discipline and lack of focus at the beginning of the game.”
Lehigh had its chances, especially in the early going, but Penn State (9-4) goalie Dana Cahill made a number of strong saves. She finished the first half with six and posted 11 for the game, only allowing two goals before being relieved by Melissa Lloyd, who stopped one-of-two.
DiNisco also impressed, making five first-half stops, but the Nittany Lions converted the game’s first nine goals before Kelly took a feed from McBrien to get Lehigh on the board at 4:26 of the first half. Penn State responded with 42 seconds remaining, but McBrien converted a free position shot with 11 seconds to go, making it 10-2 at the half.
The Nittany Lions eventually opened a 15-2 lead in the second, but Hardiman took a nifty feed from junior Anna Patterson and beat Lloyd to end a scoreless drought nearing 25 minutes.
Penn State held a 33-21 edge in shots, 17-12 in groundballs and 11-9 in draw controls. After losing the first eight draw controls, Lehigh responded to win the final five of the first half and nine of the last 12, led by a game-high five from senior Lauren Murray. DiNisco made seven saves while freshman Allison Fayans stopped one-of-two in relief.
Lehigh will host Holy Cross Saturday in a big Patriot League matchup which proves crucial to league tournament hopes. The Mountain Hawks and Crusaders enter with identical 2-2 Patriot League records as part of a four-way tie for third place in the standings. Opening draw is set for 1 p.m.
“It’s a must win,” said Redfern. “There’s no way around it. We have to play well. If we play well, I think we have a good chance.”