Despite a late comeback attempt by the Raiders, the fourth-seeded Lehigh men’s lacrosse team sailed by fifth-seeded Colgate University 11-6 in the Patriot League quarterfinals at Ulrich Sports Complex on April 24.
The Mountain Hawks (9-6, 5-3 PL) took a total of 32 shots, with 22 on goal. Freshman goalkeeper James Spence resisted Colgate (7-7, 3-5 PL) to help block 13 of Lehigh’s saves.
Spence said having his brother, junior attackman and midfielder Lucas Spence, on the field with him helped alleviate the nerves he felt going into his first collegiate playoff game.
“It’s a different atmosphere from high school, but it’s fun,” James said.
Junior attackman and midfielder Andrew Pettit’s five goals tied the Patriot League Tournament single-game record and led the team. Lucas Spence, fifth year midfielder Ian Strain, senior attackman and midfielder John Mehok, junior attackman Tristan Rai, junior attackman and midfielder Mickey Fitzpatrick and sophomore midfielder Andrew Eichelberger each added a goal of their own.
The first three goals in Lehigh’s quarterfinal victory came from the Mountain Hawks as they held the Raiders scoreless in the first quarter.
Colgate didn’t score its first goal of the game until just over two minutes into the second quarter. Lehigh quickly responded with a three-goal run to lead the Raiders 6-1 heading into the break.
Coming out of halftime, the Mountain Hawks scored the first and last goal of the third quarter, allowing Colgate a two-goal run in the middle.
Lehigh opened the fourth quarter with three goals, but the Raiders answered with a three-goal run of their own to conclude the game and bring the score to 11-6.
Sophomore attackman and midfielder Austin Pierce said the team’s strong start allowed it to carry its momentum through the remainder of the game.
“We scored early, got an early lead and we just took that momentum into the second half to get a good (win),” Pierce said.
Coach Kevin Cassese said he thought the defense played well in the first quarter after struggling the past few games and giving up countless goals.
Cassese said the Mountain Hawks’ biggest advantage was shutting out the Raiders right off the bat.
“To hold them scoreless in the first quarter was key,” Cassese said.
Looking toward the semifinals, James said the team is going to stick to what it always does to prepare.
“Tomorrow, we’ll dissect what we did today, break it down, see what we did well and what we didn’t do well, watch some more film on whoever we play Friday, get after it at practice and just prepare as much as we possibly can,” James Spence said.
Cassese said the most important thing the team needs to do as the semifinals approach is rest.
“It’s a lot of lacrosse in a short period of time,” Cassese said. “Tonight was a physical game, so we’ve got to get the guys healthy and get them rested so that we get back to full strength Friday night.”
With a quarterfinal win, the Mountain Hawks will advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2014. Lehigh will play Navy at Loyola on Friday night to compete for a spot in the championship game.