Posted: 03/26/2012 | Last updated: March 26, 2012 at 06:32 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The red-hot Lehigh men’s lacrosse team continues to garner both team and individual recognition as a result of its historic start to the 2012 season. The Mountain Hawks jumped to No. 7 in both major polls following victories over No. 17 Penn State and Patriot League rival Holy Cross last week. Junior Mike Noone was recognized as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, and freshman Matt Poillon earned Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week for the fourth time this season. Poillon has now won four straight weekly awards overall, including a Rookie of the Week honor last Monday.
The Mountain Hawks’ 12-3 win over Holy Cross Saturday gives them the most wins in the nation with nine. They also set a program record with eight straight victories, and the 9-1 season start is the best in school history. The 9-5 victory over the Nittany Lions last Tuesday marked the team’s fourth victory this season over a top-20 opponent.
The continued strong play led to another jump in the rankings, as Lehigh climbed from No. 10 in the media poll and 11th in the coaches poll to now sit at seventh in both, leapfrogging perennial powerhouses Syracuse, Maryland and North Carolina in the process.
Mike Noone has emerged as a defensive leader this season, and continued his exceptional play last week, recording six ground balls, including a career-high four at Penn State, and three caused-turnovers as the Lehigh defense allowed a total of eight goals in the two contests.
The Jenkintown, Pa. native now has 18 groundballs and 13 caused turnovers on the year, both the most among Mountain Hawk defenders. The 13 caused turnovers are also a career high for Noone, and the 18 groundballs tie his total from a season ago. The award is Noone’s first career Patriot League honor.
As a team, Lehigh caused nine of the Crusaders’ 17 total turnovers on Saturday.
Poillon continues to backstop one of the top defenses in the nation, and after giving up two quick goals to Penn State, he allowed just six goals in 115:24 for the week, spanning the final 55:24 of the Penn State game and the entirety of the contest against Holy Cross – an average of less than a goal per quarter.
Poillon and the defense limited a Crusader attack averaging over 10 goals per contest to just three on the afternoon, with Noone and the defenders limiting the top Crusader scoring threats to just one goal each. Despite facing just ten shots in the contest, Poillon made a number of timely saves, including a huge stop as he robbed a pair of Crusaders at point blank range in a two-on-none situation at the start of the second half.
Through Sunday, Poillon now owns the top goals-against average in the nation at 5.57, despite having played more minutes than anyone else in the top 50. Poillon also jumped to second overall in save percentage, as his .626 percentage remains behind only John Kemp of Notre Dame, who comes in at .656.
Noone, Poillon and the rest of the Mountain Hawk defense now rank first in the nation in team defense, allowing just 5.6 goals-per-game on the season.
In addition, junior David DiMaria and freshman Patrick Corbett earned honorable mention recognition on the weekly honor roll.
The Mountain Hawks return to action as they visit Navy Friday for a nationally televised Patriot League showdown. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network, while live streaming audio of the contest will be available online at Lehighsports.com.