BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The #16/17 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team bounced back from a tough Colorado road trip by downing VMI on Saturday afternoon, 18-2. Four different Mountain Hawks recorded hat tricks, including senior David DiMaria who had three goals and four assists for his third seven-point game of the season. Senior Chris Rinaldi also scored his first-career goal in the first quarter and turned that into a hat trick of his own. Senior goalie Griffin Farha was strong in stopping nine of 11 shots between the pipes while classmate Dan Carr came in to stop both shots sent his way over the final minutes.
The 16-goal win marked Lehigh’s largest margin of victory since a 22-3 triumph over VMI in 1999.
“Our guys were definitely eager to play,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “Coming off two losses out in Colorado, we got back to basics this week. The guys wanted to come out and make it right. The energy was there, the urgency was there and I think the focus was there. For whatever reason, we were missing that last week and it came back today.”
DiMaria, Rinaldi, senior Kyle Stiefel and sophomore Dan Taylor all recorded hat tricks. It marked the ninth of DiMaria’s career and second for both Stiefel and Taylor. Stiefel added an assist for a career-high four points. Three others recorded three points: sophomore Patrick Corbett (two goals, one assist), freshman Reid Weber (two goals, one assist) and junior Matt Smith (one goal, two assists).
“We were sharing the ball and playing very unselfishly,” said Cassese. “That was a key to the game on both ends of the field. We knew that VMI was going to come to us quickly and take away the known. We just had to share the ball and find the open lanes. Guys had to hit their shots. I felt like we struggled a little with that early on, but we settled in, found a comfort zone and were able to capitalize.”
The defense was strong, forcing 11 of VMI’s 17 turnovers led by four groundballs and two caused turnovers from senior Baxter Lanius. Sophomore Ty Souders had a groundball and two caused turnovers while sophomore Alan Henderson set a career high with four groundballs. A trio of Mountain Hawks combined to win 16-of-24 faceoffs as senior Ryan Snyder was 8-for-9 with seven groundballs, junior Ryan Buttenbaum finished 6-of-12 with three groundballs and freshman Will McKee was 2-for-3 with a groundball.
Stiefel got the scoring started at 9:59 of the first quarter after taking a feed from Henderson and beating VMI goalie Matt Lindemann. Rinaldi scored his first of the day (and his career) at the 7:56 mark before Taylor, Stiefel and DiMaria rounded out the first quarter scoring to make it 5-0 after 15 minutes of play.
Taylor had a hat trick by 4:58 of the second quarter as Lehigh led 7-0. The Keydets got on the scoreboard at the 2:43 mark on a man-up opportunity, but Corbett scored a nifty goal with eight seconds on the clock, going behind the back to make it 8-1 at the half.
The Mountain Hawks poured on the pressure in the third quarter, holding a 24-3 shot advantage while putting four more into the back of the next to make it 12-1. Lehigh went on to convert six of its 10 fourth-quarter shots into goals. The quarter started with Rinaldi’s hat trick goal and ended with two straight unassisted tallies from Weber for the 18-2 final.
Lehigh held a 58-22 shot edge and 40-28 in groundballs. Farha finished with nine saves while Carr had two across a trio of VMI netminders who combined for 13.
The Mountain Hawks return to action in just three days when they host #14 Penn on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex. That precedes a trip to PPL Park for the Independence Classic and a showdown against #8 Penn State.
“Hopefully it gets the taste out of our mouth from last weekend and gets a new taste,” said Cassese. “We’re still going to have to play better, tougher and harder against a great Penn opponent on Tuesday night and do it on a quick turnaround. For us, it brings us back to the Lehigh brand of ball we’re used to playing.”
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