BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Following a tough overtime loss at Colgate, the 11th-ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team looks to bounce back when it returns home to host #18 Bucknell Saturday on Senior Night. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks (10-2, 3-1) and Bison (9-4, 3-1) are tied for first place in the Patriot League standings (along with Colgate). Saturday’s winner will enter the final weekend of the regular season with a chance for the #1 seed and the rights to host the entire league tournament while the loser will be eliminated from any hopes for the top seed.
Saturday night will be a Summit Series game. Admission is FREE for Lehigh students, faculty and staff with a Lehigh ID. Tickets for general public are only five dollars and can be purchased in advance or on game night (cash only). Children and seniors are three dollars.
Ironically, no Patriot League team has officially clinched a league tournament berth as Lafayette stands in sixth place with three losses. Should the Leopards win out, they’d have a chance to catch every team ahead of them. But if Colgate defeats Lafayette on Saturday afternoon, that would clinch a Patriot League Tournament berth for at least Colgate and Lehigh.
Lehigh is looking to snap a six-game losing streak against Bucknell with its last win coming at home in 2006 by a 7-5 final. The sides met twice last season, with the Bison storming back for a victory in the regular season before Bucknell used a strong second half to break a 2-2 halftime tie in the Patriot League Semifinals. The sides will meet at Lehigh for a second straight season after two straight years were at Bucknell (in 2009 and ‘10).
Saturday will mark Senior Night for eight Mountain Hawk seniors playing in their final regular season home games. Kevin Donovan Jr., Gaige Flint, Dana Frye, Blaise Fullen, Adam Johnston, Cameron Lao-Gosney, Roman Lao-Gosney and Conor Murphy will all be honored approximately 10 minutes before opening faceoff.
The Mountain Hawks look to improve to 4-1 in league play for the first time since 1999 when they finished with that record. Lehigh also looks to improve to 5-1 at home and 6-2 against ranked squads this season after its five-game winning streak against ranked squads was snapped at Colgate. Lehigh held a 10-8 lead with less than five minutes to go, but a potent Raiders’ offense came back for an 11-10 overtime win.
With a win against Bucknell, the Mountain Hawks would clinch a Patriot League Tournament berth, Lehigh’s fourth in school history and second in as many years. The Mountain Hawks last made the tournament in consecutive years in 2005 and ‘06. Lehigh would reach 11 victories for the first time since 1997 when it was 11-4. It would also pull the squad within one of the school-record 12 wins in 1994; the team finished 12-3 that season.
Bucknell had a tough start to the season in losing its first three games, but has bounced back to win nine of its last 10. The Bison saw an eight-game winning streak snapped against Army last week, but bounced back to beat Penn on Tuesday, 8-3. Bucknell features a strong offense, averaging 11.69 goals per game led by 57 points (28 goals, 29 assists) from Billy Eisenreich. Todd Heritage has 40 via a team-leading 32 goals, while Chase Bailey (24 goals, nine assists) and David Dickson (11 goals, 22 assists) each have 33. The Bison only average 31.6 shots per game, but own an impressive 31.6 shooting percentage. Jackson Place leads the team with 24 caused turnovers to lead a defense which allows just 8.62 goals per contest. The squad has struggled at the faceoff X, winning just 45 percent as a team. Kyle Feeney has enjoyed a strong season in goal, owning an 8.30 GAA and 58.7 save percentage.
The Bison own a commanding 33-10 lead in the all-time series, which includes wins in 12 of the last 13 (and six straight). Lehigh’s lone win in that time came at home in 2006. The Mountain Hawks owned the series in the mid 90s, winning six-of-seven from 1993-99. The sides first met in 1969; after splitting the first two contests, Bucknell won 15 in a row until Lehigh’s next victory in 1986. The Mountain Hawks are 7-15 against the Bison since the start of Patriot League play.
The Mountain Hawks wrap up the regular season at Lafayette next Saturday (Apr. 21). Opening faceoff is set for 2 p.m.