Lehigh men’s lacrosse defeated Bucknell University 13-12 this afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex, improving to 5-0 in league play and securing a spot in the Patriot League Tournament.
The Mountain Hawks started off strong with senior Mike Sisselberger winning the first faceoff and junior Christian Mulé scoring the first goal of the game.
Senior Matt Marker followed Mulé’s goal with another to put the Mountain Hawks up 2-0 with 11:15 remaining in the quarter.
Bucknell senior Nick Crovatto secured the next face-off and sophomore Dutch Furlong scored the Bison’s first goal.
Sophomore Scott Cole fired off his first goal of the game after Bucknell put itself on the scoreboard. Cole would go on to finish the game with three goals and two assists, setting a career high of five points for himself.
With nine seconds left in the first quarter, senior Tommy Schelling nailed a shot, tying the game at four. Schelling finished the game with four goals, bringing his goal total on the season to 14.
“With a beast like Siss (Sisselberger) winning almost every faceoff, it’s nice to be able to get the ball and control our possession and work through the offense,” Schelling said. “But we have to stay composed and control what we can control if we want to continue winning.”
Sisselberger won 20 out of 27 faceoffs and picking up 15 ground balls.
Sisselberger said the team expected a tough battle today against Bucknell.
“Sometimes it’s going to go our way and sometimes it’s not going to go our way, so we know that no matter the circumstances we’re just going to play through it, whether it’s man down or not,” Sisselberger said.
After keeping things close in the first quarter, Lehigh broke away and dominated the second period. Graduate student goalie James Spence saved all five shots on goal in the quarter.
In a five-minute run, Lehigh scored four goals, putting them up 8-4 at the half. Lehigh got two goals from Schelling, one from Cole and one from Kirst.
At the start of the second half, Bucknell scored its first goal since the first quarter when Bucknell senior Alston Tarry put one past Spence with 9:24 left in the third quarter.
But Lehigh picked right back up and followed with a three-goal run. Mulé started off the scoring with an assist from sophomore Quinn Armstrong, scoring his second goal of the game with 8:14 left in the third quarter.
Within 12 seconds, Schelling scored his third goal. During an extra-man opportunity, Armstrong buried a shot into the top left corner of the net to put the Mountain Hawks up 11-5.
Bucknell finally regrouped after Lehigh received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Bucknell freshman Cam Doolan scored on the man-up opportunity.
Tarry and senior Harry Wellford scored in the last five minutes of the quarter. With six seconds left, Bucknell sophomore Ethan Gyllenhaal fired one past Spence to finish their four-goal run.
At the start of the final frame, Lehigh led 12-9. However, Lehigh’s defense scrambled to hold its composure after Bucknell’s scoring run. With 11:56 left in the game, Bucknell junior Joe Scattereggia scored to keep the Bison in the game. Lehigh responded with a goal from Kirst with 8:46 left in the quarter.
Lehigh struggled to get it together on offense in the last stretch of the game. The team turned the ball over five times and failed to clear the ball four times. Furlong netted his third goal off of Lehigh’s failed clear with 42 seconds left in the game.
Following the goal, Cole was penalized for unnecessary roughness, leaving Bucknell man-up for the rest of the game. The Bison won the faceoff but failed to get a shot off as sophomore Nick Turrini picked up a ground ball off a turnover. Turrini’s ground ball guaranteed Lehigh’s big win.
The team finished with a 44-42 advantage in shots and 43-35 advantage in ground balls.
Schelling credited assistant coach John Crawley for the offense’s success over Bucknell.
“Coach Crawley has put a major emphasis on shooting in practice and working to create opportunities for each other,” Schelling said. “Instead of taking subpar shots, we’ve been looking for high percentage shots on goal.”
However, Lehigh struggled with turnovers throughout the whole game. The team finished with 19 turnovers while Bucknell had only 11.
Senior Mike Sisselberger credited Bucknell for being a strong and talented team. However, he said the Mountain Hawks needs to continue working on clearing and shooting.
“We have to come out strong next game because we have a tough barrel looking down on us coming into these next few weeks,” Sisselberger said.
Coach Kevin Cassese characterized the game as a back-and-forth battle. Although he was happy to win, he said the team has a lot of work to do before playing Colgate on April 16.