Lehigh junior midfielder Ian Strain runs down the field with NJIT freshman Darren Almodiel during a game on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Lehigh defeated College of the Holy Cross 12-11 on Saturday at Banko Field. (Hallie Fuchs/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s lacrosse edges Holy Cross 12-11 at home

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In its first Patriot League contest this season, Lehigh men’s lacrosse was led by its attackmen in a tightly fought 12-11 win against College of the Holy Cross at the Ulrich Sports Complex on Saturday.

After leaving the game in the second half with an apparent injury, senior midfielder Billy Oppenheimer returned to score the eventual game-winning goal, his second of the game, with 4:42 remaining. The Mountain Hawks (3-1, 1-0 Patriot) fought hard to maintain that lead until the end.

No matter how many times Holy Cross (0-4, 0-1 Patriot) fell behind, it continued to press and managed to tie the game on five separate occasions. Sophomore Marc Buermann scored four goals on his own. The Crusaders even took an 11-9 lead with 9:07 remaining in the game before conceding three straight goals.

Lehigh’s three starters on attack, junior Matt Raposo, senior Reid Weber and freshman Tristan Rai combined for six goals, nine assists and nine ground balls. In a game that featured a stellar performance by Holy Cross goalie Michael Ortlieb, the trio did not allow themselves to get frustrated.

Sophomore midfielder Matt Ernst made a big difference as well for Lehigh, taking all 26 faceoffs and coming away with 16 wins. It was the first game of the season in which he took the majority of the faceoffs for the Mountain Hawks.

Lehigh will attempt to improve to 2-0 in Patriot League play when it plays host to Colgate on March 5.

Top 5 Stats

5. With this win, Lehigh men’s lacrosse improves to 27-0 all time against the Crusaders.

4. In his first game leading faceoff duties, Matt Ernst won 61.5 percent, a huge improvement from Lehigh’s 37.2 percent on the season coming in. His 16 wins also matched a career high, set last season when he faced the same opponent, Holy Cross.

3. The Mountain Hawks were able to clear all 14 of their attempts on the day, the first time they have executed their transitions at 100 percent in a game since April 7, 2015 against Princeton University.

2. Matt Raposo’s four assists on the day was a career high, which is two more than he’s ever tallied in a single game.

1. Tristan Rai’s third goal, a highlight reel off-hand quick-stick, earned him his fourth hat trick in as many games this season. The freshman sensation from Edmonton, Alberta, has tallied at least three goals in every game he’s played for a total of 16 this year.

Rapid Reaction

Coach Kevin Cassese: “Tristan Rai is no longer a secret. I think that in the first couple of games no one really knew who he was, but he’s changed that. There’s no doubt that people realize he’s going to make our offense go.”

Matt Raposo: “They were playing hard, but we look for battles because we think we’re tougher and that we’ll play harder than them.”

Billy Oppenheimer: “Our trainers did a good job and said I was good to go, and I was fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time to make the most of it.”

Matt Ernst: “It was nice getting in my first full game this year. Last year, playing them was one of my better games. You’ve got to come out hard, no matter who the opponent is.”

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