Men’s Lacrosse Steals a Final-Hour Victory Over Lehigh



The Colgate men’s lacrosse team earned an upset victory in dramatic fashion when it knocked off the then No. 7 ranked Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 11-10, in overtime last Saturday at Andy Kerr Stadium. Senior mid-fielder Jeff Ledwick proved to be the hero as he cut to open space about 10 yards in front of the Lehigh goal and buried the shot once sophomore Brendon McCann found him with a nice assist. Ledwick scored in a similar fashion to tie the game up late in regulation.

“On both plays, I was just trying to be opportunistic and tried to take advantage of what the defense gave up,” Ledwick said. “Cutting to open space was something we had worked on all week. When you have players like Ryan Walsh and Peter Baum who attract so much attention from opposing defenses, it really opens things up for the offense.”

The Raider win snapped a nine-game win streak for the Mountain Hawks. The game was close throughout, as there were seven lead changes, seven tied scores and no team led by more than two goals through-out the game. Colgate’s win coupled with a Bucknell loss to Army means there are three teams tied atop the Patriot League standings at 3-1.

In a battle of strength vs. strength, it was Colgate’s top-ranked offense that got the best of Lehigh’s top-ranked defense. It was only the second time Lehigh had surren-dered double digit goals on the season, and it was more than double its usual 5.45 goals against average.

“All week we focused on being unselfish with the ball,” Ledwick said. “With a Lehigh defense that slides and recovers quickly, it’s really important to move the ball quickly and force them into uncomfortable situations.”

Colgate came out to its usual strong start, getting an early goal from Jeff Ledwick to grab the early lead. The goal was set up by Peter Baum, who dodged past his man and drew a slide from Ledwick’s defender. He then passed the ball over to a wide-open Ledwick who was able to beat Matt Poillon for the goal. The two teams then traded goals over the next eight minutes of the game before Lehigh was able to get two goals in the last five minutes of the period to end the first quarter up, 3-2. The go-ahead goal for Lehigh came with just five seconds left in the period.

Lehigh was successful in dictating the pace of play throughout the game, as they limited transition opportunities for Colgate. Its defense was very keen on making sure they got back and having the Raider of-fense beat them in a more settled offensive look. This gameplan seemed to be working in their favor as they held the Raiders score-less for nearly 18 minutes spanning from the first quarter deep into the second quarter.

However, as the period began to close, the Raider offense came to life. McCann broke the scoreless streak as he scooped the ball up right in front of the Lehigh goal and was easily able to put the ball into the back of the net following a Lehigh turnover. About two minutes later Lehigh was flagged for unnecessary roughness, giving Colgate its first man-up opportunity of the afternoon. Junior midfielder Matt Baker capitalized on the man-up opportunity, pulling Colgate even at 4-4 with just over a minute left in the half. On the restart, junior Robert Grabher quickly secured the faceoff and found senior long-stick midfielder Kevin Gordon. Gordon took a huge wind-up and blew a shot by Poillon right before taking a big hit from a Mountain Hawk defender. The goal gave the Raiders a 5-4 lead going into the halftime intermission.

Given the late burst that Colgate had to end the first half, it appeared that they would have all the momen-tum heading into the second half. Yet Lehigh struck first in the third quarter to level the game at 5-5. The Mountain Hawks then took the lead just over two minutes later, cashing in on a posses-sion that had seen a Lehigh player hit the post earlier. Colgate bounced back with a two-goal run of its own, fueled by Ryan Walsh who tallied two goals within a minute for the Raiders to see the lead swing back to Colgate at 7-6. The Mountain Hawks responded with another last minute goal, tying the game 7-7 heading into the final period of play.

Lehigh got the first two goals of the fourth to push its lead to 9-7. Given the slow pace of the game and how tough the Lehigh defense can be, the next goal was crucial. The Raiders bounced back with a much-needed goal from senior midfielder John Donnally. McCann found him with a nice pass from behind the goal after Donnally cut to a hole in the Lehigh defense. He then stepped into his shot and was able to beat Poillon low to cut the Lehigh lead to one at 9-8.

With five minutes left in the game, the Raiders found themselves down 10-8. Lehigh slowed down their offen-sive pace considerably to run the clock down, and were called for a stall warn-ing. The Raiders were able to get pos-session and Peter Baum finally found his first goal of the contest. Lehigh still led by one entering the final minutes of the game and Colgate was desperately trying to find the equalizer to send the game into overtime. Baum isolated himself numerous amounts of times just inside the Colgate offensive zone. Despite a few failed attempts, he beat his man, swinging the ball to Walsh who then found Ledwick who tallied the equalizer for the Raiders. Colgate won the face-off following the goal, and called a timeout with 48 seconds left to set up the final play of the game. Baum started with the ball following the timeout and ran the clock down to about 15 seconds before he made his break toward the goal. Baum got by his man, but a great effort by a Le-high defender deflected Baum’s pass to Ledwick out of bounds with three sec-onds left. Ledwick then picked up the ball on a quick re-start and whipped it across the field to Baker who had time and room to step into a shot. Poillon made a great save low to save the game for Lehigh and send it into overtime.

Grabher secured the face-off to start the overtime period, but was quickly run out of bounds by a team of Lehigh defenders. On this offensive possession, Lehigh almost came away the victors, as their first shot rang off the post. On the restart, sophomore Bobby Lawrence forced the Lehigh attackman to take a weak shot that Madison easily saved. The Raiders then cleared the ball and called time-out to set up their first offensive set of overtime. Much like at the end of regulation, the possession started with Baum isolating just inside the Colgate offensive zone. Baum then beat his man, passed it to Baker, who quickly rifled it to McCann behind the goal. Ledwick then cut to a wide-open zone right in the middle of the field in front of the Lehigh goal. McCann saw him and hit him with a great pass, and the senior took care of the rest to give the Raiders a thrilling victory.

“We just decided to get the ball to our best player in Peter Baum,” Led-wick said. “We knew he would attract a lot of attention from the defense and would probably open up something on the backside of the field. Luckily, it all ended up working to plan.”

McCann and Ledwick led the way for the Raiders. McCann had four points on a goal and three assists, while Ledwick had three points coming from a hat trick. Se-nior Jared Madison had nine saves between the pipes for the Raiders. His counterpart, Matt Poillon, re-corded 16 saves for Lehigh and proved why he is not only one of the best first-year, but overall goal-ies in the country. Grabher utterly dominated face-offs, winning 20 of 25. The Raiders outshot the Moun-tain Hawks 44-33, and won the groundball battle 30-21.

“Grabher was outstanding and I think he was one of the biggest rea-sons we won the game,” Ledwick said. “Anytime you can win that many face-offs, it not only gives you an advantage in the number of possessions but also keeps the defense fresh.”

With the win, Colgate jumped to No. 12/14 in the two respective polls. Lehigh fell to No. 11 in both polls. The Raiders are back in action Satur-day as they take on Lafayette at Andy Kerr Stadium. The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m..

Contact Steve Urban at [email protected]