February 18, 2012

Cunningham's Five Leads Villanova Past Lehigh

from staff reports

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Villanova spoiled Lehigh's home-opener Saturday, winning 17-7 at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The loss snapped a three-game home winning streak against the Wildcats, and puts the Mountain Hawks at 1-1 on the season.

Kevin Cunningham had five goals and two assists to lead Villanova in its season opener. The Wildcats scored 10 straight while holding Lehigh scoreless for 36:37, beginning halfway through the second quarter and lasting until less than two minutes remained in the contest, when Dan Taylor netted a Lehigh goal. Freshman Dan Taylor led the way offensively for Lehigh with three points via two goals and an assist.

Also scoring for the Mountain Hawks were freshman Patrick Corbett, who had two points (one goal, one assist) along with senior Roman Lao-Gosney and junior Noah Molnar.

Villanova capitalized on their opportunities, cashing in on six-of-nine extra-man chances. The Mountain Hawks were man down for a total of 8:30, and had only 2:30 of man-up offense themselves.

"I tip my hat to Villanova," said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. "They outplayed us in every facet of the game today. They were more disciplined, they played harder and they were smarter. I give them a lot of credit, and I'm disappointed in our effort."

Despite 12 saves from freshman goalie Matt Poillon, the Mountain Hawks struggled to find offense all afternoon, with three of their goals coming in the last two minutes of the contest.

"We didn't give [Matt] much of a chance," said Cassese. "We were playing pretty poor defense in front of him. We were running in the penalty box; most of their shots were right on top of him."

After a 1-1 start, Villanova went on a 6-0 run spanning almost 13 minutes. The Mountain Hawks struck three times in the next two minutes to make it 7-4 before another run by Villanova put the game out of reach.

Led by Cunningham, Villanova looked strong in its season opener. The Wildcats are coming off a 2011 campaign that saw them reach the NCAA Tournament before falling to Denver, who went on to reach the final four. Senior goalie Dan Gutierrez stopped 12 of 19 Lehigh shots, while junior Will Casertano (4 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore Kevin O'Neil (1 goal, 4 assists) both contributed five points.

Villanova led the final shot count, 40-31, while the Mountain Hawks had a 33-25 edge in groundballs. Lehigh won 15-of-27 faceoffs, including 10-of-20 from junior Ryan Snyder and 5-of-7 from sophomore Ryan Buttenbaum. Snyder finished with eight groundballs while junior Brian Hess added five, to go along with an assists.

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