Junior attackman and midfielder Andrew Pettit runs the ball up the field during the team's game against Loyola at Ulrich Sports Complex on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks lost 16-10 to the Greyhounds. (Walker Wadsworth/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s lacrosse falls to defending league champs Loyola

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Despite a late comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, No. 17 Lehigh men’s lacrosse fell 16-10 to Patriot League rival No. 11 Loyola at Ulrich Sports Complex April 7.

The Mountain Hawks (8-4, 5-2 PL) took 33 shots, 21 of which were on goal. Lehigh had eight saves on the night.

Junior attackman and midfielder Andrew Pettit led the team in scoring with three goals. Sophomore attackman and midfielder Austin Pierce followed with two. Junior attackman and midfielder Mickey Fitzpatrick, junior defender Craig Chick, junior attackman Tristan Rai and junior attackman and midfielder Lucas Spence each added one. Senior midfielder Brady Thompson contributed his first goal of the season.

In the first quarter of the game, the Greyhounds (7-3, 5-1 PL) shut out the Mountain Hawks 5-0.

Loyola’s early run left Lehigh trailing 8-1 as both teams entered the half.

Pierce said the first half put the Mountain Hawks further behind than they should’ve been.

“We need to be more aggressive because we weren’t being aggressive as a team in general until the very end of the game, and I think that was key as to why we weren’t so hot off of the start,” Pierce said.

Coach Kevin Cassese said his team was plagued by its inability to find any offensive rhythm going into halftime, causing it to struggle when trying to gain possession of the ball.

“Loyola was winning faceoffs and scoring goals and then winning faceoffs and scoring goals, so I give them a lot of credit,” Cassese said. “They played close to a perfect game that they could have played.”

Cassese said the team needs to make changes next time they face off against Loyola in the future.

Freshman midfielder Joel Trucksess said when the Mountain Hawks were able to gain possession of the ball, they struggled to maintain it, limiting their ability to transition between defense and offense.

“They beat us to every ball on offense and were pounding the balls in when they had the chance to do it,” Trucksess said. “If we meet them again, we have to come out stronger with a better first and second quarter and play just a little bit more together to start off the game so we don’t have to make up for it at the end.”

The Mountain Hawks attempted to compensate for their first-half performance, scoring a total of nine goals in the second half, with six alone coming in the last quarter of the game.

Cassese said he was proud of his team’s effort and said it gave the Mountain Hawks momentum toward the end of the league battle.

“Our guys just started to play free, and we had some different people that went in that were fresh,” Cassese said. “They went hard because the pressure was off, and we knew that we weren’t going to win the game.”

Looking toward the future, the Mountain Hawks want the chance to meet the Greyhounds again in the playoffs but Cassese said they’ll have to put up a fight to get to the postseason if they continue playing like they did today.

“I want to definitely play these guys again and do what we need to do,” Pierce said. “But, we have to focus on our last two games.”

The Mountain Hawks will return home Saturday to face Cornell University.

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