The No. 25 Navy women’s lacrosse team claimed a decisive victory against Lehigh on Saturday afternoon at the Ulrich Sports Complex in Bethlehem, Pa. The Midshipmen, who improved to 8-2 and 2-0 in the Patriot League, demonstrated an impressive defense that held the Mountain Hawks scoreless in the second half while the offense dominated the game, outscoring the home team 7-0 in the final two quarters.
“The defense played awesome for us today, holding a good Lehigh team to no goals in the second half,” said head coach Cindy Timchal. “Offensively, we were able to make a run in the second half as the defense was holding strong.”
The Midshipmen defense held Lehigh to its lowest point total of the season, while allowing the fewest goals by an opponent this year. Navy did not allow a goal in the second half, marking the first time since defeating George Washington, 22-2, in 2021 that the defense held an opponent scoreless in a half.
Navy’s defense was anchored by Emma Richardell, who tied a career-high with 11 saves, while causing a turnover and picking up a pair of ground balls in just over 57 minutes of action. Anne Culicerto worked the final 2:38 between the pipes, recording a clean stat sheet. The defense finished with 13 caused turnovers in the contest, with Katie Golbranson, Isabelle Thornburg, and Ava Yovino leading the way with two caused turnovers apiece.
On the offensive end, six Midshipmen combined to score 15 goals, including four hat tricks. Leelee Denton led the charge with four goals, giving the junior 15 scores on 17 shots in the last three games. The hat trick was Denton’s fifth of the season and 12th of her career. DiCarlo, Yovino, and Lola Leone also added hat tricks, finishing with three scores apiece. Messinese and Ryan added goals with Yovino and Ryan combining for the Mids’ five assists on the day.
Lehigh was the first team to score, scratching the scoreboard one minute into the game. Navy responded with three straight scores to take a lead it would not relinquish. Leone netted back-to-back goals to put the Mids in front, while Denton followed with her first score. Following a Mountain Hawk goal, DiCarlo found the back of the net to put the Midshipmen in front 4-2 after the first quarter of play.
In the second quarter, Denton started the scoring. Lehigh answered, but scores by Yovino and DiCarlo pushed the Navy advantage to 7-3. The home team scored what proved to be its final goal of the day with 9:22 remaining in the first half to pull to within three at 7-4. Navy did not allow a goal the remainder of the game, outscoring Lehigh 8-0 from that point. Leone closed out the first half with her third goal to send the game to intermission with the Mids in front, 8-4.
The Midshipmen outscored the Mountain Hawks, 6-0, in the third quarter. Yovino and Ryan each dented the net in the first 90 seconds of the second half. Denton posted back-to-back scores to push the advantage to 12-4. Messinese and Yovino closed out the quarter with Navy in front by 10 at 14-4.
With the clock steadily running in the final quarter, the Navy defense was once again able to hold Lehigh scoreless. DiCarlo netted the only goal of the fourth quarter for the Mids, providing the final margin of victory at 15-4.
Although Lehigh attempted to make a comeback early in the game, Navy’s defense proved too strong to overcome. Emma Eberhardt and Gabby Schneider notched two goals apiece to notch the Mountain Hawks’ four scores. Olivia Memeger was credited with Lehigh’s lone assist. Hayley Hunt, who was the Preseason Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year and a 2022 All-Conference selection, took the loss at goal, surrendering 14 goals, while registering nine stops. Lehigh used three goalies in the loss.
Navy returns home for a pair of Patriot League games against Lafayette and Colgate at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Overall, Navy’s impressive win over Lehigh serves as a testament to the team’s strong defense and powerful offense, as well as its ability to play well in adverse weather conditions. The Midshipmen will look to carry this momentum into their upcoming games and continue their successful season.