BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Standing at 8-1 and riding seven straight victories, the #11/10 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team will look to continue its winning ways when it hosts Holy Cross for a Patriot League clash on Saturday. Opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks are off to their best start since 1969 and with a win on Saturday, would post the best record after 10 games in school history.
A win would also give Lehigh (8-1, 1-0 Patriot League) its eighth straight win which would set a new school record. The program did post an 11-game unbeaten streak spanning 1914 to 1915, but that included two ties. The Mountain Hawks are tied for the most wins in the nation (8) and with a win on Saturday, would become the first team to nine wins this season. #1 Virginia enters Saturday with eight as well, but its game against Johns Hopkins doesn’t begin until 2 p.m.
The Mountain Hawks are coming off the fourth win against a top-20 team as they downed #17 Penn State in University Park on Tuesday, 9-5 behind a balanced scoring attack and 10 saves from freshman Matt Poillon. Poillon and the defense allowed just three goals in the final 55:24 of the contest after allowing two within the opening five minutes. As of Monday, Poillon was ranked fourth nationally in both goals against average and save percentage, which should only get better after Tuesday’s performance. Lehigh’s team defense ranks third overall nationally, allowing less than six goals per contest.
Junior David DiMaria leads the team in scoring with 26 points, (12 goals, 14 assists). Classmate Dante Fantoni impressed at Penn State, scoring two of Lehigh’s first three goals to spark the offense; he finished with two goals and assists to jump to second on the team with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists). Seniors Roman Lao-Gosney and Adam Johnson each found the back of the net twice to give the Mountain Hawks three double-digit goal scorers on the season. Twenty Mountain Hawks have recorded at least one point on the season, and seven have reached double-digit points. The Lehigh offense has proved to be effective for 60 minutes, scoring at least 16 goals in each quarter and outscoring its opponents by nine or more in the second, third and fourth quarters. The Mountain Hawks are outscoring their opponents overall, 83-53.
Lehigh’s win over Penn State marked its first against the Nittany Lions since 1971, snapping a 14-game losing streak. The Mountain Hawks won their fourth straight over ranked foes after dropping their home opener to #10 Villanova. Lehigh also improved to 5-0 on the road this season.
Holy Cross is coming off of a 13-7 loss to Navy in Annapolis, but still owns a solid 4-4 record on the season (0-2 in league play). The Crusaders have defeated defending America East Champion and NCAA Tournament participant Hartford (15-14 in overtime), Jacksonville (13-11), Mercer (12-6) and Vermont (9-8). Holy Cross’ other Patriot League defeat came against Colgate, 13-9. Junior James Kennedy leads the Crusaders with 29 points (17 goals, 12 assists) while junior John Hannan is second with 16 points (all goals). Freshman Clay Haarmann is third with 11 points, (eight goals, three assists). Sophomore Kenny O’Conner has started all six games between the pipes, carrying a .500 save percentage and a 10.64 GAA. The Crusaders hold a team faceoff percentage of .527, but are being outscored by opponents 96-81.
Lehigh has controlled the all-time series with Holy Cross, winning all 21 contests against the Crusaders, including an 11-5 victory in Worcester last season. The teams first met for Patriot League play in 1991, a 14-7 Lehigh victory. Holy Cross has come close on multiple occasions, including taking the Mountain Hawks to overtime in 2007. Lehigh has won every home game against the Crusaders by at least four goals.
Saturday’s game marks Lehigh’s first of five straight against Patriot League opponents to close out the regular season. The Mountain Hawks will next travel to Navy on Friday for a nationally-televised showdown on CBS Sports Network. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.