Posted: 03/09/2012 | Last updated: March 16, 2012 at 09:12 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Riding a four-game winning streak, the #16 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team returns home for the first time in 15 days to host #15 Yale in a big Sunday afternoon showdown. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks have allowed only 14 goals over their four-game winning streak as the defense has continued to shine.
At the end of the first quarter, the Lehigh men’s basketball team will be honored for winning the Patriot League Championship on Wednesday. For more information, please click here.
Lehigh will face a strong Yale squad ranked 15th in the nation following a strong 2011 campaign. Sunday will mark the Bulldogs’ first road contest after winning two of their first three at home. Overall, Yale is Lehigh’s fourth nationally-ranked opponent of the season; the Mountain Hawks lost to Villanova while defeating Penn and North Carolina.
Sunday’s Lehigh-Yale matchup was deemed by Quint Kessenich as one of the top 10 games in the nation, on his weekly Inside Lacrosse ESPNU blog. The Mountain Hawks are eying their first five-game winning streak since the 1999 season when the squad won six in a row. A win would push Lehigh to 6-1, marking the squad’s best start since 1969. It would also mark Lehigh’s first win over Yale since 1918, snapping a seven-game losing streak against the Bulldogs.
Lehigh won its fourth straight Tuesday, defeating VMI, 6-2. The Mountain Hawks used two straight goals from senior Roman Lao-Gosney to extend their halftime lead, but it was the defense that was again the story. Lehigh allowed 26 shots and 12 on goal, but freshman Matt Poillon was stellar, making 10 saves for his second double-digit save performance of the season. A two-time reigning Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week and defending Cascade National Rookie of the Week, Poillon owns a stellar 5.72 GAA and 61.4 save percentage on the season.
Yale defeated Lehigh, 10-6 last season, using a strong effort from the get-go to down the Mountain Hawks. The Bulldogs feature one of the nation’s best faceoff tandems, as Dylan Levins is 57.1 percent (20-of-35) and Cole Yeager 53.3 percent (24-of-45) at the X. The squad averages 14.67 goals per game over its first three, which will be a test for the Lehigh defense, which has allowed only 5.83 per contest.
Entering the season with high expectations, Yale has gone 2-1 thus far, defeating St. John’s (19-6) and Albany (13-7) before being upset by Sacred Heart on Tuesday (13-12). The Bulldogs are coming off a 2011 campaign when they posted a 10-4 record, 3-3 in Ivy League play. Matt Gibson leads the team in scoring with 13 points through three games (six goals, seven assists). Brandon Mangan has 11 (nine goals, two assists) while Gregory Mahony has nine (seven goals, two assists). Michael McCormack leads the team with 16 groundballs and nine caused turnovers while a pair of faceoff standouts has combined to win 55 percent on the season. This marks the third straight game that the Mountain Hawks will face a strong faceoff squad, following UNC’s R.G. Keenan and VMI’s Stephen Robarge. Meanwhile, Eric Natale owns a 9.09 GAA and 34.2 save percentage in goal, with a 2-1 record.
Yale has dominated the all-time series, owning a 7-2 lead which includes seven straight victories dating all the way back to 1918 (Lehigh’s last win). Lehigh won in 1916 and ‘18 before the Bulldogs responded with a 12-2 win in 1939. The sides have played four times since the turn of the century, which includes a number of close calls. However, each time, the Bulldogs have pulled out a victory, including an 11-10 final in 2001 and 8-6 final in 2010.
Lehigh remains home for its Patriot League opener next Saturday (Mar. 17) as the Mountain Hawks welcome Army for a 1 p.m. faceoff. The squad will then hit the road the following Tuesday (Mar. 20) for a 7 p.m. tilt at #10 Penn State.