BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Following arguably its biggest win in school history, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team has jumped into the national rankings released Monday, standing 15th in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and 16th in the USILA Coaches Poll. In addition, four Mountain Hawks were recognized by the Patriot League, including sophomore Ty Souders (Defensive Player of the Week), freshman Matt Poillon (Goalkeeper of the Week) and juniors Ryan Snyder and David DiMaria (Honorable Mention).
The Mountain Hawks enjoyed a stellar week, beating a pair of 2011 NCAA Tournament Teams in #19/18 Penn (10-4) and #4 North Carolina (9-8), to improve to 4-1 on the season. Lehigh jumped all the way to 15th and 16th, respectively, as the only Patriot League team nationally ranked. The Mountain Hawks also became the first team in the league to defeat a ranked squad, doing it twice in a five-day span.
Lehigh’s defense has been the story as of late, extending its shutout streak to an incredible 90:14 which began in the fourth quarter against Villanova and ran through a shutout vs. Manhattan and 24:56 at #19/18 Penn. Leading the defense has been Souders, who posted seven groundballs and two caused turnovers over the two games to earn his first-career Patriot League weekly award. Souders and the defense allowed only four goals against a Quaker offense which scored eight in its season opener at Duke. The Mountain Hawks allowed only two goals over the first 59:04 before Penn added two late scores with the game firmly in control. Souders tied a career-high four groundballs on Tuesday while Lehigh caused 16 of Penn’s 18 turnovers on the evening.
The success continued on Saturday at #4 North Carolina as Lehigh allowed eight goals and 16 shots on goals against a prolific offensive unit averaging 15+ goals coming in. Souders got the assignment of covering the Tar Heels’ top offensive players, helping hold their top three goal-scorers (Davey Emala, Marcus Holman and Jimmy Bitter) to a single goal between the three of them. Lehigh held UNC scoreless for one stretch of 27:50 bridging the end of the second through fourth quarters, allowing the Lehigh offense to erase a 5-3 deficit and go up, 8-5. Overall, the Mountain Hawks have allowed only 16 goals over their four wins.
Backstopping the charge is Poillon, who wins his second goalie of the week award in a four-week span, after he stopped 56 percent of the shots sent his way. He began by making seven saves on 11 shots at Penn, helping the Mountain Hawks open a 10-2 advantage. Poillon then made eight stops at North Carolina Saturday, including one with only 27 seconds left that would have tied the score. He owns a stellar 6.48 GAA and 57.9 save percentage for the season.
Earning honorable mention were juniors Snyder and DiMaria. Snyder was one of the team MVPs last week, winning 68 percent of his faceoffs (25-of-37) while scooping 18 groundballs. He rebounded from a slow start at Penn by winning 10-of-11 in the second half to effectively end any hopes the Quakers had. He then posted one of his most impressive performances in his career, winning 13-of-20 against a UNC squad which had exceeded 70 percent for the season. The Tar Heels’ R.G. Keenan entered with a win percentage over 80 percent (good for second in the nation), but won only 3-of-12 against Snyder, which forced two others into action. This came after Keenan was 18-of-20 his previous game at Navy to earn ACC Defensive Player of the Week laurels.
Meanwhile, DiMaria served as a crucial presence on the Lehigh attack, starting with freshmen Patrick Corbett and Dan Taylor. He finished the week with nine points - five at Penn (two goals, three assists) and four at North Carolina (one goal, three assists). He scored the game’s first goal at UNC to set the tone early while assisting on what proved to be the game-winner. DiMaria owns a team-leading 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) on the season.
The Mountain Hawks return to action Tuesday when they travel to VMI to face the Keydets. Opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m. Lehigh then returns home Sunday (1 p.m.) to host #15/16 Yale in a nationally-ranked showdown.