Villanova Drops Closely Fought Battle to No. 11 Lehigh

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Swings of momentum for both squads defined the contest as No. 11 Lehigh found the upper hand in a closely fought battle to defeat Villanova, 11-9, at Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The contest marked the first victory for Lehigh at Villanova since 1997; the Wildcats had previously won six-straight games over the Mountain Hawks since the 2006 season.

Led by the three-goal performance by senior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.), 11 different Wildcats posted points, including four tallies by freshmen on the day. The Mountain Hawks were carried by the combined 12-point performance via seven goals and five assists from David DiMaria and Dante Fantoni.

In a closely contested battle where neither team led by more than two goals, Villanova found themselves within one of the Mountain Hawks on five separate occasions throughout the contest. The Wildcats saw their largest lead of the game in the opening minutes when a trio of seniors in Rice, Paul Mita (Berwyn, Pa.) and Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) found the back of the net at the 12, 9 and 7 minute marks to begin the game.

With 5:07 left in the first quarter, Lehigh went on a 5-2 scoring run and held the Wildcats without a point for just under 14 minutes to bridge the opening stanzas. With 6:12 remaining in the half, Rice connected on a feed from sophomore Eric Gartner (Malvern, Pa.) to close the first half at 6-4 in favor of the visitors.

The Wildcats dominated the second half with junior John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) breaking the drought on a transition goal from a Remington Pope (Boston, Mass.) feed to put the Wildcats to within one at 6-5 at the 12:08 mark in the third quarter. Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.) and Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) followed suit with goals just 31 seconds apart to tie the game at 7-7 with three minutes remaining, but Lehigh would connect on two quick scores by Fantoni and Dan Taylor to keep the lead.

Lehigh would go on to outscore Villanova by a 3-2 margin in the final quarter off of goals from Taylor, Fantoni and DiMaria to solidify the contest despite VU having two man-up goals by Rice and freshman Tim Mulrenan (Glen Ridge, N.J.).

Freshman goalkeeper Greg Stamatov (Foxboro, Mass.) collected 10 saves on the day for his first career start while junior Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) led the way with six ground balls and a 12 for 22 mark (.545) on face-offs. Lehigh's Matt Poillon recorded 16 saves in the victory.

The Wildcats will look to rebound in 10 days when they make the short trek to Philadelphia, Pa. on Tuesday, February 26th to face Drexel at Vidas Field. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m. versus the Dragons.

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VILLANOVA, Pa. - No. 11 Lehigh used a 5-0 first-half run to create some distance before fending off a Villanova comeback attempt to earn a hard-fought 11-9 road win on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Mountain Hawks improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2000 and snapped a six-game losing streak at Villanova, winning there for the first time since 1997.

“Today's game was everything I expected it to be,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “Both teams played extremely hard. It was a war of wills: their style, their tempo vs. our style, our tempo. Luckily we were able to come out on top. I thought both teams were impressive.”

Senior David DiMaria equaled his stellar performance from a week ago by posting seven behind four goals and three assists. Classmate Dante Fantoni added four goals and an assist while freshman Dan Taylor posted two and one.

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