HAMILTON, N.Y. - Owning a school-record 13 wins, the #8 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team will look for its first-ever Patriot League Championship on Sunday when it faces 10th ranked and top seed Colgate. Faceoff for the title game is set for 3 p.m. and will air nationally on CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan and Evan Washburn on the call. The Mountain Hawks and Raiders each picked up impressive wins in the semifinals on Friday, beating Bucknell and Army by five and six goals, respectively.
Fans can follow Sunday’s action in a number of ways. Along with the CBS Sports Network coverage, live audio will be available, with Steve Lomangino and Chris Wakely on the call. Fans can also follow along with a live interactive blog; just click here for the live blog.
Both sides went 5-1 in league play this season with the Mountain Hawks’ only loss coming to Colgate while the Raiders dropped a home game to Navy. Both are among the top 10 in the nation in RPI as Lehigh looks for its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The winner will earn an automatic berth to the tourney while the loser will have to wait until Selection Sunday (May 5) to see if their name is called as an at-large pick. Colgate has advanced to the Championship Game for a second straight season as the squads eyes its second tournament title. Lehigh did win a Patriot League Championship in 1999, but that came before there was a postseason tournament and automatic bid to the NCAAs.
Lehigh has won three straight ever since dropping an 11-10 overtime heartbreaker at Colgate back on April 7. The Mountain Hawks led 10-8 with less than five minutes remaining, but a dynamic Raiders’ attack tied it up to force an extra session, where Jeff Ledwick won it. In that game, sophomore Lukas Mikelinich and the Lehigh defense held Peter Baum to only a single goal, a season-low for the nation’s leading scorer. That game featured a battle of the #1 offense vs. #1 defense in the nation statistically. This time around, the Colgate offense is #2 (behind only Robert Morris), as is the Lehigh defense (behind Notre Dame).
The Mountain Hawks used an efficient offense, coupled with another stifling defensive performance to beat Army going away. Lehigh turned 20 shots on cage into 13 goals while allowing only 14 Army shots on goal, seven which were stopped by the combination of freshman Matt Poillon and junior Griffin Farha, who entered in the game’s closing moments. Friday marked the first time in school history Lehigh defeated Army for a second straight game. The Mountain Hawks held Army star Garrett Thul to a season-low one goal Friday night as well. Lehigh improved to a perfect 12-0 when allowing single digit goals this season.
Colgate has owned the all-time series as of late, winning seven straight and 11 of the last 12 for a 27-10 all-time lead. Lehigh’s last victory came in 2005 (12-11 in overtime) while its last road win came in 2000 (11-9). The teams first met in 1956, which Colgate won, 16-0. Lehigh’s first win was in 1960 (8-6), but Colgate won seven straight before Lehigh’s next victory in 1969. Lehigh had one impressive streak, winning four in a row and five-of-six from 1992-97, but the Raiders have only lost three games since. Ironically, three of the last eight games between the sides have gone to overtime, including this season’s 11-10 final.
Colgate enters red-hot with a 12-2 record coming off two straight wins over Bucknell. The Raiders defeated the Bison in the final seconds last Friday before earning a five-goal win in the semifinals. The squad’s only two losses have come to Dartmouth and Navy while it handed Fairfield its first loss of the season. Baum leads the nation in scoring with an incredible 77 points via 56 goals and 21 assists. That included a Patriot League Tournament record nine points in Friday’s win over the Bison, while he tied a tournament record with five goals. Baum’s lowest goal and point output came against the Mountain Hawks (one goal, two points). Star freshman Ryan Walsh has 47 points (29 goals, 18 assists) while Ledwick, who scored the game tying and winning goals against Lehigh on April 7, has 38 (26 goals, 12 assists). Four others have double-figure points as well for one of the nation’s most prolific offenses (13.57 goals per game). Robert Grabher is one of the league’s top faceoff specialist, winning 185-of-322 (58 percent) with 111 groundballs. Veteran Jared Madison has started all 14 games in goal, posting a 9.24 GAA and 46.8 save percentage.
A win would earn Lehigh an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament, which begins with the opening round in two weekends (May 12-13).