Posted: 04/19/2012 | Last updated: April 20, 2012 at 06:19 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Coming off a thrilling last-second win over 18th-ranked Bucknell, the #12/10 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team wraps up the regular season on Saturday when it travels to Lafayette. Faceoff against the archrival Leopards (3-9, 1-4 Patriot League) is set for 2 p.m. in Fisher Stadium. The Mountain Hawks (11-2, 4-1) look to tie a school record for wins in a season, while entering next weekend’s Patriot League Tournament with their 11th win in their last 12 games.
Lehigh enters the final weekend with a chance for the #1 seed and with it, the right to host the entire Patriot League Tournament. The Mountain Hawks need Bucknell to defeat Colgate Friday night (7 p.m.) in a game aired live nationally on CBS Sports Network. If that happens, Lehigh will host the tournament for the first time in program history, regardless of Saturday’s results. If the Raiders win, Colgate would host the entire tournament with Lehigh as the #2 seed.
The Mountain Hawks earned a hard-fought win over Bucknell, scoring the only three third-quarter goals to turn a 5-3 halftime deficit into a 6-5 lead. Lehigh then came back from 7-6 and 8-7 deficits, capped off by Dante Fantoni’s tough-angle goal with just 14 seconds remaining. Junior classmate Ryan Snyder tied the score at eight with 3:52 to go off a faceoff win, just 15 seconds after Billy Eisenreich gave Bucknell an advantage.
Junior Mike Noone earned Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week laurels for the third time in the last four weeks, posting career highs in groundballs (6) and caused turnovers (4). He now has 21 groundballs and 13 caused turnovers over his last five games. Freshman Matt Poillon made eight saves to earn his sixth weekly award of the season and second Rookie of the Week honor. He owns a stellar 6.04 GAA and 61.0 save percentage on the season.
Saturday’s game vs. #18 Bucknell drew a facility record 2,096 fans, shattering the previous mark of 1,645 originally set on Apr. 20, 2008 against Notre Dame. The Ulrich Sports Complex seats 1,200 fans, with nearly 1,000 standing along the fence and around the entire width of the field.
Lehigh won its fifth straight home game last Saturday after dropping its opener to Villanova. The Mountain Hawks also improved to 6-2 against nationally-ranked squads. Lehigh has won 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Leopards, including five straight at Lafayette. With a win, Lehigh would finish 5-1 in Patriot League play for the first time in school history; the Mountain Hawks’ best league finish came in 1994, 95, 97 and 99 when they were 4-1.
Lafayette has struggled this season, owning a 3-9 record and 1-4 mark in Patriot League play. The Leopards beat Providence and Wagner to start 2-1, but have lost eight-of-nine since. The lone victory came at Holy Cross on Apr. 7 by an 8-4 final. Brian Bock leads the offense with 29 points via 14 goals and a team-leading 15 assists while Colin Serling is second with 22 points (13 goals, nine assists). Four others own double-digit points. Mac Ahsler has a team-leading 35 groundballs along with 13 caused turnovers (second on the team) while Paul Hammer leads the way with 16 caused turnovers. The Leopards have struggled at the faceoff X, winning just 43 percent with seven different players taking at least one faceoff including four who’ve taken at least 29. Jake Hyatt has seen the majority of time in goal, posting a 9.71 GAA and 53.1 save percentage.
Lehigh leads the all-time series with Lafayette, 61-21-1, which includes a dominant performance as of late. The Mountain Hawks have won 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Leopards, with victories in 16 of the last 18. Lehigh won last year’s meeting, 14-7, breaking a string of three extremely close contests. The squad won a 10-9 overtime thriller last time at Lafayette, which ended with Fantoni’s second straight overtime game-winner. The rivals first met in 1926, a 9-0 Lehigh victory. Lehigh won the first 10 meetings before Lafayette’s first victory in 1935.
The Mountain Hawks have advanced to their second straight Patriot League Tournament, which will kick off next Friday (Apr. 27) with Semifinal games at 5 and 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. The tournament will conclude with the Championship Game on Sunday at 3 p.m.
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