By Greg Stevenson
Trailing by four goals with under nine minutes remaining against Lehigh on the road last Friday, the Bison men’s lacrosse team’s perfect conference record and chance for the Patriot League regular season title seemed to be in serious jeopardy. But, led by a pair of juniors, the Orange and Blue fought their way back for a dramatic 12-11 victory over the Mountain Hawks.
“I have never been a part of such a dramatic and exciting comeback in all my years of playing lacrosse,” Charlie Streep ’12 said. “I think that it is a testament to all of the hard work we have put in throughout this entire year. We are a different team that, thanks to inspiring leadership, is more mentally tough than ever, and I think that our ability to not give up in the face of adversity on Friday night really reflected that.”
Battling Navy for the last spot in the Patriot League tournament, an opportunistic Lehigh squad wasted no time in forcing an early deficit for the Bison. The Mountain Hawks scored just three minutes into the contest, and tallied two more goals before the Orange and Blue could get on the scoreboard.
Streep scored the first of his four goals in the game with five minutes left in the first quarter. The goal could not stop Lehigh’s momentum, as the Mountain Hawks would score four consecutive goals over the next 10 minutes, extending into the second quarter. The Orange and Blue found themselves down 7-1 after just 20 minutes of play, looking for an answer to the potent Lehigh offense.
That answer came from Billy Eisenreich ’12. Setting up two goals with assists and scoring one of his own, his three points would help the Bison cut the six-point deficit to four at halftime.
The third quarter belonged to the Ryan Klipstein ’11 and the Orange and Blue. Klipstein netted two goals in the first four minutes of the second half, and his third, late in the quarter, would pull the Bison within two. The hat trick gave him 25 goals and 40 points on the season, both team highs.
In the fourth quarter, the Mountain Hawks were poised to put the game out of reach for the Bison. Lehigh’s Dante Fantoni completed a hat trick of his own to push the lead to 10-7. The Mountain Hawks would score once more in the quarter before going cold for the last 11 minutes of the game.
As quickly as the Mountain Hawks’ offense went silent, the Bison turned up their offensive pressure for one last push for an improbable, come-from-behind victory. Down by four, the Bison called on juniors Streep and Eisenreich to win the game for them.
“We knew Lehigh was going to be a tough league opponent, but we did not expect to be down that late in the game,” Jordan Nies ’11 said. “Still, at no point in the game did any of us think we were going to lose.”
Streep started the comeback with consecutive goals, the second coming at the 5:48 mark. Eisenreich would follow up with a goal just 23 seconds later to cut what was once a six-point lead for Lehigh to just one.
A minute later, Eisenreich found the back of the net again, this time to bring his Bison all the way back from the brink of defeat to tie the game at 11.
The comeback would be complete when Eisenreich, with 1:40 left, escaped his defender and netted the game-winner for his fourth goal and career-high eighth point of the contest.
With their perfect conference mark still intact, the Bison will head to Colgate tomorrow for a duel with the Patriot League’s only other undefeated team. The game will essentially be a one-game playoff for the right to host the conference tournament starting next weekend.
“In our four years, our senior class has faced off against Colgate in a lot of high stakes games, so this one is nothing new for us,” Nies said. “We’ve developed a great rivalry with plenty of bad-blood. I’m looking very forward to beating them on their home field and bringing the Patriot League Tournament back to Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.”