BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Coming off a big win over #12/13 Penn State in the Independence Classic, the #15/16 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team will look to carry that momentum when it heads to Army for the Patriot League opener. Opening faceoff against the Black Knights is set for 12 p.m. in Michie Stadium. The Mountain Hawks look to win their Patriot League opener for a third straight season.
Lehigh is coming off its biggest win of the young season, beating the Nittany Lions 12-10 at the Whitman’s Sampler Independence Classic at PPL Park. The Mountain Hawks took a commanding 5-1 halftime lead, but Penn State responded with five of the six third-quarter goals to pull even after 45 minutes of play. The Nittany Lions took fourth-quarter leads of 8-6 and 9-7, but the Mountain Hawks scored five straight to take a 12-9 advantage, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. It marked Lehigh’s first of three nationally-televised games this season as the game was aired live on ESPN3 and re-aired on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia that night and Comcast Mid-Atlantic the following day.
Sophomore goalie Matt Poillon returned from injury and made 11 saves (eight in the first half) to earn Game MVP honors. Senior Dante Fantoni and sophomore Dan Taylor each posted five points. Included were a pair of highlight-reel behind the back plays by Taylor - first a second-quarter goal then fourth-quarter assist. Sophomore Patrick Corbett also posted a hat trick, all coming in the span of 7:47 in the fourth quarter.
The defense impressed on Saturday, holding Penn State to one goal over the first 32:02 including one scoreless stretch of 24:24 bridging the first and third quarters. Junior Ty Souders impressed with a career-high three caused turnovers to go with two groundballs.
Lehigh jumped to #15 and 16, respectively in the most recent national rankings. The Mountain Hawks begin with a blank slate in the league standings Saturday. Lehigh and Army faced off in the Patriot League Semifinals last season, a 13-7 Mountain Hawks victory. Lehigh pulled out a slim 7-6 win in last season’s Patriot League opener at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
Lehigh is eying its third straight win over Army and fourth in its last six tries. Ironically, Saturday marks the first time Lehigh will open Patriot League play on the road since Mar. 3, 2007, a 9-8 overtime win at Holy Cross.
The Black Knights are 4-2 so far this season, losing only to UMass and Syracuse while beating Manhattan, VMI, Michigan and Rutgers. All-American Garrett Thul leads the team with 21 goals and is tied for the team lead with 24 points. John Glesener also has 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) while Alex Newsome has 16 (11 goals, five assists) and Pat Brennan nine (two goals, seven assists). Thul also leads the team in groundballs (19) and faceoff man Alex Daly has 18 while winning 48.8 percent at the X (39-of-80). Brendan Buckley leads the team with nine caused turnovers.
Army leads the all-time series, 20-5 but Lehigh has picked up four of those wins in its last eight attempts. The Black Knights won the first-ever meeting in 1922, 4-1. The sides didn’t reconvene until 1990, a 15-11 Army victory. Lehigh’s first win came in 1999 by a 13-9 final. The Mountain Hawks won both meetings last season, 7-6 in the regular season and 13-7 in the Patriot League Semifinals. Lehigh lost its last meeting up at Army (12-9) while beating the Black Knights four seasons ago, 13-12 in an overtime thriller.
Lehigh returns home Wednesday to host #19 UMass in a nationally-televised showdown on ESPNU. Opening faceoff is set for 6 p.m.
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