The only consistent thing about the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team in 2017 is its inconsistency.
Those words from coach Kevin Cassese rang true in its 15-10 upset over No. 13/14 Princeton University on Tuesday at Banko Field, just a few days after getting blown out by Loyola University on the road.
“It’s a challenge with a young team,” Cassese said. “When you have some success, it’s very easy to just sit back and say, ‘Alright, we’re good now.’ That’s when you get bit again.”
Lehigh (6-5, 3-4 Patriot) has been trading wins and losses nearly the whole season — its last win or loss streak, which was just two games, was from Feb. 18-22. The senior class took over Tuesday, providing effort in all aspects of the game, especially at midfield.
Senior midfielders and captains Ian Strain and Cody Triolo each had two goals against Princeton, and Strain notched three assists as well, shattering his previous career high of two points. Strain said the seniors stepping up was key for the team against the Tigers.
“I think it’s huge, I think a lot of us have been waiting for our shots, to really make an impact and a legacy here, so it was great,” he said. “Guys get put into spots, and we just did our job.”
Even senior midfielders who don’t normally play a lot made an impact. Anthony Ramaizel added a goal and an assist, a career high in points for him, and Casey McAdam won eight of 18 faceoffs after taking just 13 faceoffs combined all year. He also had a season-high five ground balls.
Cassese emphasized the importance of the seniors to win a big game over a ranked opponent like Princeton.
“I thought those guys stepped up well, between the midfielders, but also Donny (Stires) in the goal,” Cassese said. “I thought Casey McAdam also stepped up too. We haven’t really asked him to faceoff much this year, and he took the bulk of the draws tonight and was a warrior out there. I was really impressed with our senior leadership here tonight.”
Stires made his third straight start in net Tuesday and has recorded double digit saves in each game. He tied his career high of 13, which he previously set April 1 against Boston University, his first career start.
“It’s incredible,” sophomore long-stick midfielder Craig Chick said. “He goes from not being a starter to giving us two huge wins, and it’s been awesome. He’s been stepping up big and making huge saves in critical times. We’re loving it.”
Chick was all over the field, tallying an assist, three caused turnovers, nine ground balls and winning four of eight faceoffs. Chick came into the game leading the nation in caused turnovers per game at 3.10.
Sophomore Tristan Rai also was a key contributor for Lehigh, scoring three goals and two assists. Sophomores Andrew Pettit and Lucas Spence each added two goals and an assist, too.
Lehigh jumped right out and scored the first five goals, taking a 5-1 lead into the second quarter and a 9-1 lead into halftime. With Lehigh leading by as much as nine goals, Princeton began to mount a comeback, cutting the lead to three goals early in the fourth quarter. However, Lehigh scored three of the final four goals to seal the victory.
Next up for the Mountain Hawks is Cornell, which they’ll play on Saturday in Ithaca, New York, at 1 p.m.