On a cold, windy day at the Ulrich Sports Complex, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team set out to end a streak of seven straight losses to the visiting Cornell Big Red.
Lehigh is battling injuries, and it certainly showed on the offensive side. The Mountain Hawks were without Cole Kirst, Justin Tiernan and John Sidorski in Saturday’s game.
While the Mountain Hawks scored the first goal of the contest, it was Cornell who took control in the final quarter, upending the hosts, 9-5.
Kirst, who should be back within a few weeks, finished second on the team in points last season.
“We kind of got surprised in the preseason with Cole Kirst going out,” Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said. “Cole’s our spark. He’s our energy guy, and we just don’t have a lot of spark and energy on the offensive side of things right now, so that’s been really tough to overcome. It’s definitely been tough, but we don’t have a choice. “
Tiernan and Sidorski, who are both out for the remainder of the year, were also strong forces for Lehigh last season.
Sidorski garnered first-team All-Patriot League honors in 2021, finishing second in assists and fourth in points. Tiernan followed closely behind, finishing fourth in goals and fifth in points for the Hawks.
With the majority of the top scorers out, Lehigh is looking to some of the younger players — guys who are still developing and gaining experience.
“Injuries are tough,” Cassese said. “It’s tough to always plan for them. Two of them we had in the fall, so we were able to at least, we thought, to try and develop the guys around them to step in and take their place, but that’s been tough.”
One guy who is not inexperienced is sophomore attackman Scott Cole. Cole scored a hat trick against the Big Red after recording four goals last week against Hobart.
“Scott, for the second week in a row, has stepped up and made some really tough and big plays on the offensive end when we’ve been pretty quiet,” Cassese said.” That’s been great. What we need is other guys to do the same. We just don’t have enough of them right now stepping up on the offensive end.”
Cole played in all 12 games last season, but with guys out, he’s been the player Lehigh has had to look to for momentum as opponents double-team senior attackman Tommy Schelling.
“We have to continue to work at it and try and get better,” Cassese said. “We will learn a lot from the film today. We played a tough defensive team in Cornell. They had a lot of upperclassmen playing, and they beat us up pretty good today. I think that’s something that we will take and learn and try and get better on the defensive end of things. We had Pat McIlroy out today, and he’s the center of our defense.”
Lehigh will look to rebound from their second straight loss when they open up Patriot League play against the Navy Midshipmen on March 5 at the Ulrich Sports Complex at 3 p.m.