BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Coming off a dominant 13-0 triumph over Manhattan, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team travels to Penn on Tuesday to face the #19/18 Quakers. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. The Mountain Hawks look to ride the momentum of their first shutout in 40 years when they face their second ranked foe of the season.
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Lehigh’s challenging schedule is turned up a notch this week as the squad begins with Penn, who earned an at large berth to the NCAA Tournament last season, then UNC, who also made the tourney. The Mountain Hawks face seven teams who were ranked in the preseason top 20, and four who made the 2011 NCAA Tournament (along with Villanova and Bucknell).
The Mountain Hawks impressed in pitching their first shutout since 1972 on Saturday, topping Manhattan 13-0. It was Lehigh’s first shutout since a 10-0 win over Gettysburg and the first in the NCAA since Apr. 24, 2010 when Stony Brook topped Albany, 15-0. Leading the defense was junior Mike Noone, who had a career-high three caused turnovers while scooping two groundballs to earn honorable mention on the Patriot League weekly honor roll. Junior David DiMaria led the offense with four points via three goals and an assist. It marked his third-career hat trick, which also earned honorable mention recognition from the Patriot League. Freshman Patrick Corbett added three goals, one assist and four groundballs while freshman Matt Poillon made four saves in goal.
Tuesday marks Penn’s second game of the season after dropping a 12-8 final at Duke Friday. The Quakers struggled in winning only 25 percent of their faceoffs, which is an area of strength for the Mountain Hawks. Junior Ryan Snyder has won 60 percent (27-of-45) this season while sophomore Ryan Buttenbaum has won 65 percent (11-of-17). Buttenbaum won 6-of-10 Saturday along with a career-high six groundballs.
Lehigh is looking for its second win in the last three meetings against Penn after dropping 13 straight games previously. A win would up the Mountain Hawks’ record to 3-1 for the second straight season after they hadn’t been 3-1 since 2006. Lehigh is looking for its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent since the end of the 2010 season when the squad defeated #9 Villanova, then #19 Lafayette in succession.
Penn is coming off a strong 8-6 season, which finished with an NCAA Tournament berth. The 2011 campaign began with a bang as the Quakers topped Duke to begin the season before earning wins over ranked squads Princeton and Yale. Penn hung tough in their 2012 season opener Friday at #10/8 Duke, falling 12-8. Tewaaraton Award candidate Dan Savage led the way with five points (three goals, two assists) while John Conneely also added a hat trick. Savage and Conneely accounted for six of Penn’s eight goals while Tim Schwalje added a pair of assists. Brian Feeney stopped 11-of-23 shots in the loss. The Quakers struggled both at the faceoff X (25 percent) and on the ground, dropping the groundball battle, 45-23.
Lehigh and Penn will meet for the first time since 2007, which ended in a slim 13-12 Quaker victory. The Mountain Hawks had snapped a 13-game losing streak the year prior with a 14-8 home triumph. Lehigh won 11 of the first 13 meetings, which began in 1891, but Penn has responded to take a 26-21 lead in the all-time series. The Mountain Hawks and Quakers have played five times since the turn of the century. Prior to that, the two hadn’t met for 32 years between 1970 and 2002.
Lehigh will continue on the road when it heads to #4 North Carolina Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff. The Mountain Hawks then head to VMI on Mar. 6 before returning home to the Ulrich Sports Complex to host #18 Yale on Sunday, Mar. 11.