Men's lax falls in final seconds

By Reed Dempsey

Tied with 14 seconds remaining on the clock, the men’s lacrosse team suffered a crushing 9-8 defeat at the hands of No. 11 Lehigh this past Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa.

Heading into the game with a 3-1 conference record, the Orange and Blue understood the matchup’s important playoff implications. The winner would remain tied atop the Patriot League standings going into the final week of the season with a chance to host the league tournament.

After four and a half minutes of play, Nick Gantsoudes ’12 opened the day’s scoring with an unassisted goal but the Mountain Hawks gained possession of the ensuing faceoff and tied the game just 23 seconds later.

The Bison regained their lead as Peter Burke ’14 found Billy Eisenreich ’12 with 3:42 left in the first quarter. But what looked to be a 2-1 Bison lead heading into the end of the first quarter ended abruptly as Lehigh tied the game at two apiece with one second remaining.

In the opening five minutes of the second quarter, the Bison found the back of the net twice, extending their lead to 4-2. Burke scored on an unassisted tally at the 14:12 mark followed by a goal from David Dickson ’15, assisted by Gantsoudes.

Lehigh cut the lead to a single goal with one minute remaining in the half, but the Orange and Blue has some last second antics of their own as Eisenreich found Chase Bailey ’13 for his 25th goal of the season and a 5-3 halftime lead.

The Orange and Blue were held scoreless in the third quarter as the Mountain Hawks scored three straight to take their first lead of the day. During this run, extended possessions by Lehigh disrupted the success of the Bison offense.

“Lehigh did a great job of possessing the ball in the second half and that limited our opportunities to get in a flow on offense,” attackman Todd Heritage ’14 said.

According to head coach Frank Fedorjaka, the Mountain Hawks were able to take advantage of mental mistakes during an otherwise strong defensive performance.

“Defensively we played terrific, but we had a few mental lapses and Lehigh capitalized on them,” Fedorjaka said.

After the Bison failed to convert on their first four extra-man opportunities of the game, a cross-checking penalty on Lehigh at the end of the third quarter carried over to the fourth where Eisenreich found Dickson to tie the game at six.

Six minutes later, Burke scored his second goal of the day, giving the Bison their fifth lead of the day, but it only lasted 81 seconds  as the Mountain Hawks once again worked quickly to tie the game.

The Mountain Hawks dominated the faceoff  “x” all afternoon, going 13 for 18. After Eisenreich scored his second of the day and 30th of the year, Lehigh’s Ryan Snyder gained possession on the ensuing faceoff, raced the ball down the field and scored to tie the game at 8-8.

The Bison gained possession on the following faceoff, but a saved shot and turnover gave the Mountain Hawks the ball with three minutes remaining. Lehigh successfully cleared the ball into their offensive zone and were able to maintain possession before converting on a shot with 14 seconds remaining. The defeat brought the Bison’s record to 9-5.

Even with the loss, the Bison qualified for the Patriot League Tournament. They will face No. 11 Colgate tonight in their regular season finale. (Lehigh advanced to No. 10 in this week’s rankings.) Moving into this matchup and the tournament, Fedorjaka has confidence in his team.

“One thing about winning the Patriot League tournament: the team that gets hot at the right time will have the best chance to win it all,” Fedorjaka said. “We are still getting better every week and that is the most important thing. Hopefully we are going to get hot at the right time. I sense that we are.”

The Bison and Colgate face off tonight at 7 p.m. in Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

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