BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Riding a five-game winning streak, including three victories over nationally-ranked teams, the 11th ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team is set to open Patriot League play vs. Army Saturday in a St. Patrick’s Day showdown. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
The Mountain Hawks (6-1, 0-0 PL) are off to their best start since 1969 following wins against Manhattan (a shutout), #19 Penn, #4 North Carolina, VMI and most recently #15 Yale last Sunday; that ’69 squad began the season winning seven of its first eight. Lehigh has outscored its opponents, 49-21, over that span, and have limited the opposition to single-digit scoring in six of seven contests this season (all victories). To top off the Mountain Hawks’ recent dominance, the wins against Penn, UNC, and VMI all came on the road; they’re 4-0 on the road this season, including their season-opening win at Saint Joseph’s.
Defense continues to be the story for the Mountain Hawks, led by freshman goalie Matt Poillon. In the last two contests, Poillon is averaging twice as many saves (9) as goals allowed (4.5). As a team, Lehigh continues to stifle opposing offenses, allowing just 12 shots on goal to VMI before holding the Bulldogs to 15 on Sunday. Poillon is allowing an average of just 5.91 goals per game, ranking third nationally behind Notre Dame’s John Kemp (4.16) and Pierce Basset of Johns Hopkins (5.25)
The Mountain Hawks shut out VMI for a stretch of 45:33, and kept Yale off the scoreboard for 21:29 in the second half, allowing the Lehigh offense to net five straight goals and shut the door on the 15th ranked Bulldogs.
Poillon’s 60.2 save percentage ranks ninth nationally, despite the freshman playing more minutes than any other goalie in the top 50. Poillon has played 416 out of Lehigh’s 420 minutes thus far. The second highest minutes total belongs to Chris Herbert of Delaware, who has played 398 minutes and ranks 33rd in save percentage.
Poillon is a two-time Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week, and has garnered national attention with a Cascade Rookie of the Week award following performances against #19 Penn and #4 North Carolina.
Junior David DiMaria leads the Brown and White in scoring with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) while freshman Dan Taylor stands second with 12 (8 goals, 4 assists). Freshman Patrick Corbett and senior twins Cameron and Roman Lao-Gosney have all contributed 10 a piece – Corbett (eight, two) Roman (seven, three), Cameron (six, four). In all, 18 Mountain Hawks have recorded at least one point this season.
Junior Ryan Snyder continues to excel at the faceoff X, winning 59.5 of draws and capturing 51 ground balls to lead the Mountain Hawks.
Army (3-4, 0-0 PL) has lost three of its last four contests, falling to #6/6 Syracuse and #7/3 Cornell before downing Rutgers. Most recently, the Black Knights fell to rival Air Force 9-8 in overtime. Junior Garret Thul leads Army in goals and points. Thul has 22 goals on the season, and passed the career century mark last week against Rutgers. Thul has added one assist on the year for 23 points. Connor Hayes is second in scoring for the Black Knights with 11 goals and three assists. Goaltender Zach Palmieri backstops the Army defense with a 10.20 GAA.
The Black Knights defeated Lehigh last year, 12-9, in West Point. Army was ranked #8/9 at the time, but the tables have turned this year as Army will attempt the upset of #11 Lehigh. The Black Knights also hold the edge in the all-time series, 20-3. Lehigh last defeated Army in 2009 in an OT thriller, powered by a five goal performance from Cameron Lao-Gosney.
The Mountain Hawks will try for their first six-game win streak since 1999 on Saturday. Lehigh then heads to #14 Penn State on Tuesday night for an intrastate clash.