BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh head coach Stacey Blue announced the team’s 2012 schedule on Thursday, which includes 10 home games highlighted by a tilt with national power Penn State and league showdowns against Holy Cross, American and Lafayette. In total, the Mountain Hawks face three teams who won their conference a season ago: Penn State (Big Ten), Rider (NEC) and Lafayette (Patriot League). Lehigh looks to continue building momentum following a 3-2 league record and Patriot League Tournament appearance last season.
“Our schedule is very competitive this year,” said Blue. “I am excited about all the games and new teams added for the fall.”
New foes on the schedule include Ball State, Liberty, Towson, Penn State and Albany. Penn State advanced to the 2011 NCAA Quarterfinals while Rider and Lafayette dropped NCAA Play-In Games to Princeton and Ohio, respectively. The Mountain Hawks play eight of their first 11 games at home.
“We as a team love home games,” said Blue. “We have a great facility and great crowd, so to have 10 games at home will be its own motivator.”
Lehigh opens 2012 with a pair of home tilts against Ball State (Aug. 25) and Liberty (Aug. 26). The squad will hit the road the following weekend to face the University of Pennsylvania on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. The Mountain Hawks earned their first-ever win over the Quakers last season.
Lehigh welcomes Saint Francis (Pa.) two days later; the squad then plays at Fairfield the following Friday (Sept. 7) before hosting Towson on Sunday (Sept. 9).
The Mountain Hawks will remain home for a second straight game, welcoming Penn State on Friday, Sept. 14 for a 6 p.m. showdown under the lights. The Nittany Lions advanced to the National Quarterfinals last season, winning the Big Ten Tournament Title while finishing with a 17-6 overall record.
“It’s very exciting to play a powerhouse team such as Penn State,” said Blue. “We look forward to this night game and for it to help us prepare for the rest of our schedule and Patriot League play.”
After a neutral site game against Georgetown on the 16th, the Mountain Hawks will host Sacred Heart (Sept. 21) and Monmouth (Sept. 23), then Holy Cross (Sept. 29) in the Patriot League opener.
Lehigh plays four of its final six games on the road, beginning with a Sept. 30 contest at defending NEC Champion Rider. Last season, the Broncs used a 15-game winning streak to finish 19-2, falling to Princeton in a hard-fought 1-0 final in an NCAA Play-In Game.
The only game the following weekend comes at home against American on Saturday, Oct. 6. Lehigh will then head to Colgate and America East power Albany on Oct. 13 and 14, respectively. The Great Danes were nationally-ranked through all of 2011, including standing 12th heading into the America East Tournament. Albany finished the season with a strong 13-7 record.
The Mountain Hawks will close out the regular season each of the final two Saturdays, at Patriot League finalist Bucknell (who Lehigh defeated 1-0 last season) on Oct. 20 and home vs. league champion Lafayette on the 27th. Lehigh is looking to advance to its third Patriot League Tournament in the last four seasons, which is set for the following weekend.
Check back to Lehighsports.com for continued updates leading into the fall season. Like Lehigh field hockey on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lehighfieldhockey for continued news and notes leading into preseason practice. The Mountain Hawks return all four All-Patriot League honorees for a highly anticipated campaign: Kim Eng, Sierra Segear, Steph Fratoni and Marie Mignogna.
“This team has so much potential,” said Blue. “The entire team and staff are so excited to get started with the season.”