BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The #17/19 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team looks to bounce back from a hard-fought 6-4 defeat to #18 Penn when it heads to PPL Park for the Whitman’s Sampler Independence Classic against #12/13 Penn State. Faceoff is set for 5 p.m. It marks the third game of a tripleheader as Syracuse faces St. John’s at 12 p.m. and Penn takes on Villanova at 2:30. All three games will air live on ESPN3. The game will also air on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia via tape delay at 8:30 p.m.
For ticket information and complete information on the event, please check out the official Independence Classic website by clicking here.
The Mountain Hawks have struggled as of late, falling in three of the last four. Lehigh has been right in each game, including leading #11 Denver at the half (and trailing by only two after three quarters) while playing a nip and tuck game against #18 Penn Tuesday night. Both defenses dominated. Senior Mike Noone posted five groundballs and a career-high six caused turnovers as the Mountain Hawks caused 13 of the Quakers’ 19 turnovers. Goalie Brian Feeney was the story for Penn, posting a career-high 17 saves as the Quakers got goals from six different scorers for the victory.
Saturday marks Lehigh’s final tuneup before Patriot League play begins next Saturday (Mar. 16) at Army. The Mountain Hawks do have one final nonleague contest on Mar. 20 against #9/13 UMass on ESPNU. Lehigh and Penn State renewed a longstanding rivalry in 2011, with the Nittany Lions winning at Lehigh (8-7 in overtime) before the Mountain Hawks won at Penn State last season, 9-5, their first win over Penn State since 1971.
The NCAA Quarterfinals were held at PPL Park last season and Championship Weekend will take place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia this May. Saturday marks Lehigh’s first of (at least) three nationally-televised games as the squad will host UMass on ESPNU and Colgate on CBS Sports Network. The entire Patriot League Tournament will air on CBS Sports Network as well.
The Mountain Hawks have allowed only 10 goals to the Quakers over the last two seasons (four in a 10-4 victory last year). Penn improved to 3-1 with the victory, which includes a win over Duke and slim loss at Denver.
Penn State is 2-2, including a win over Denver and losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State. The Nittany Lions are led by TJ Sanders (13 goals, two assists) and Jack Forster (10 goals, five assists), who have 15 points apiece. Shane Sturgis has 11 points (nine goals, two assists) while Tom LaCrosse comes in with seven (six goals, one assist). Danny Henneghan has impressed at the faceoff X, winning 57 percent (53-of-93) with a team-leading 22 groundballs. Michael Richards and Jack Donnelly are tied for the team lead with five caused turnovers apiece. Austin Kaut has played every minute in goal and owns a 9.25 GAA and 51.9 save percentage.
A long-time rival, Lehigh trails Penn State in the all-time series, 32-8. Last season, the Mountain Hawks won for the first time since 1971. The sides first met in 1915, a 10-2 Lehigh win before Penn State picked up its first win in 1927, 11-2. With a win on Saturday, Lehigh would win two straight against Penn State for only the third time in program history (1915-17 and 1970-71).
Lehigh will return to action next Saturday when it heads to Army for its Patriot League opener. Opening faceoff is set for 12 p.m.
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