ANNAPOLIS, Md. – No. 12 Lehigh suffered its first dual loss against an EIWA opponent in nearly three years as Navy stunned the Mountain Hawks 19-15 Saturday night at Halsey Field House. The teams split ten bouts, but the Mids pulled off three one-point upset wins over ranked Lehigh wrestlers and also picked up the only four bonus points on the night.
The loss, Lehigh’s third straight, drops the Mountain Hawks to 9-5 on the season (1-1 in the EIWA), while Navy improves to 2-1 (2-0 EIWA).
“We didn’t fight,” a disappointed Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro said afterwards. “In every position they out-toughed us. That’s not the way we want to wrestle. I don’t understand how we couldn’t get up for this match. They beat us in all aspects of the game tonight and they deserved to win.”
Things started well for the Mountain Hawks, who captured the first two bouts to take a 6-0 lead, but Lehigh wrestlers narrowly missed major decisions in both bouts.
The dual began at 141 where freshman Stephen Dutton built an early 6-1 lead over Dustin Haislip. Dutton entered the third period needing a takedown for a major decision, but it was Haislip who took Dutton down twice to limit him to a 9-5 victory. Sophomore Joey Napoli then followed with an 8-2 win over Eric Filipowicz at 149. On the strength of two takedowns Napoli led 5-0 after two periods. Despite adding another takedown in the third, Napoli fell two points short of a major and had to settle for the regular decision.
“Not getting those bonus points meant a lot to us,” Santoro said. “Everything counts, especially when we get to Nationals. Every point counts. Every point counts when we get to the National tournament and we weren’t getting the necessary points tonight. We have a lot of work to do.”
The complexion of the dual began to turn at 157 where junior Sean Bilodeau returned to the Lehigh lineup against seventh-ranked Bryce Saddoris. Bilodeau struck first with a double leg takedown but after a Saddoris escape, he secured a takedown of his own before putting Bilodeau on his back with a turk ride and cross face. After a short battle, Saddoris worked Bilodeau’s shoulders to the mat for the fall in 2:13, which tied the dual at six.
Navy then took control of the lead with one-point wins in the next three weight classes to take a 15-6 lead. At 165 Mason Bailey and junior Brandon Hatchett were tied 3-3 in the third period before Bailey scored a takedown which would become the difference in a 5-4 win. Next up was freshman Austin Meys against Matt DeMichiel at 174. Meys scored first but was then taken down himself and ended the first period tied at 3-3. The wrestlers traded escapes in the second and third periods, but again it was a Navy grappler with a third period takedown as DeMichiel scored and with an escape Meys fell a point short in a 6-5 setback.
The Mids completed the run at 184 where No. 18 Luke Rebertus upset EIWA Wrestler of the Week and sixth-ranked sophomore Robert Hamlin. Rebertus opened the scoring on a lightning quick shot. Hamlin trailed 3-1 going to the third period, but tied the match with an escape and a penalty point after Rebertus’ second warning for stalling. Rebertus though converted a counter takedown in the third period, and Hamlin was unable to penetrate the Mid’s defense for a takedown of his own as Rebertus prevailed 5-4.
“These were matches we had to win,” Santoro explained. “We were just giving points away. In a couple of those matches we just mentally broke and that’s not acceptable.”
Junior Joe Kennedy stopped the Navy run with a 4-2 win over Greg Prioleau, while the Mids backup heavyweight Mike Landis kept things close against Zach Rey, giving up only a spin-behind takedown in the third period as Rey moved to 19-0 with a 3-2 win.
With Lehigh’s inability to earn bonus points, the Mountain Hawks needed senior Mitch Berger to either beat Aaron Kalil at 125 or hold him to a regular decision to stay in the dual. Kalil however, was able to put points on the scoreboard, scoring two takedowns and a three-point near fall to lead 7-1 after one period. He added takedowns in each of the final two periods to clinch the dual for Navy with a 13-3 major decision.
In the final bout of the dual, freshman Frank Cagnina was tested by Navy’s Tyler Sackett. Cagnina scored the first takedown, but later was caught in a scramble for a takedown and two-point near fall and trailed 6-3 after one. Cagnina slowly clawed back into the match and was able to pick up a third period takedown plus riding time. He added a final takedown at the buzzer to win 11-8 but it wasn’t enough to prevent Lehigh from losing its first EIWA dual since a 24-15 loss to Penn on February 24, 2008.
The three dual losing streak is Lehigh’s longest since the Mountain Hawks lost four straight duals in December, 2007.
“Last week we had a hard week of practice then this week we backed off a bit,” said Santoro. “There’s no excuses. Navy went out and took it to us and we let them.
The Mountain Hawks will return home Thursday night as they host the nation’s No. 1 team the Cornell Big Red at 7 p.m. at Stabler Arena. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME or by visiting the Lehigh ticket office located in Grace Hall.
Navy 19, Lehigh 15
141 – Stephen Dutton (LU) dec. Dustin Haislip (Navy) 9-5
149 – Joey Napoli (LU) dec. Eric Filipowicz (Navy) 8-2
157 – Bryce Saddoris (Navy) Fall Sean Bilodeau (LU) 2:13
165 – Mason Bailey (Navy) dec. Brandon Hatchett (LU) 5-4
174 – Matt DeMichiel (Navy) dec. Austin Meys (LU) 6-5
184 – Luke Rebertus (Navy) dec. Robert Hamlin (LU) 5-4
197 – Joe Kennedy (LU) dec. Greg Prioleau (Navy) 4-2
285 – Zach Rey (LU) dec. Mike Landis (Navy) 3-2
125 – Aaron Kalil (Navy) maj. dec. Mitch Berger (LU) 13-3
133 – Frank Cagnina (LU) dec. Tyler Sackett (Navy) 11-8