Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/26/11
The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team was picked fifth in the Patriot League preseason poll, as announced during the league’s preseason media teleconference today.
In addition, the league’s national television schedule was announced, which includes the Mountain Hawks’ April 17 showdown against North Carolina at 12 p.m. in Goodman Stadium.
Lehigh wrapped up last season with two consecutive overtime wins over nationally-ranked foes, beating No. 9 Villanova, 15-14, before topping No. 19 Lafayette, 10-9.
“We’re actually looking back to last year a little bit and using it to build confidence heading into this year,” said head coach Kevin Cassese. “We return nine out of our starting 10. I’m happy because we’ll have a little more experience this year, but the flip side of that is our experience is still very young. We’ll be heavy in the junior, sophomore and freshman classes.”
The Patriot League television package features four marquee regular season matchups – Army at Navy (Apr. 16), North Carolina at Lehigh (Apr. 17), Bucknell at Colgate (Apr. 23) and Johns Hopkins at Army (May 6). In addition, all three of the Patriot League Tournament games will be televised for the third straight year. The Patriot League Tournament is the only conference tournament in the nation that is nationally televised in its entirety.
“I have a lot of respect for [UNC head coach] Joe Breschi,” said Cassese. “He’s been great to me personally and our program. To have him bring his team up here is exciting.
“It’s a big weekend in general; we have a big Patriot League game on Friday,” Cassese continued. “For Sunday, North Carolina is a big draw no matter where you are. They have a great team and are doing some great things down there, so they have the potential to be in the top five [nationally] when they roll into Bethlehem. Lacrosse is booming in the Lehigh Valley, so I would imagine it’ll be a very well attended game.”
Lehigh finished fifth in the preseason poll, voted on by head coaches and Sports Information Directors around the league. Defending champion Army was picked as the preseason favorite, garnering 78 points and 12 first place votes. The Black Knights were followed by Navy (58), Bucknell (51) and Colgate (39). The Mountain Hawks finished fifth with 31 points, one point ahead of rival Lafayette in sixth. Holy Cross finished in seventh with 13 points.
The top four seeds advance to the Patriot League Tournament, with all games hosted by the regular season champion. In addition to the four regular season game on CBS College Sports, the network will also carry all three tournament games. Lehigh is looking for its first Patriot League Tournament berth since 2006.
The Mountain Hawks are deep into preseason practice eying the season opener on Feb. 12. Lehigh returns seven of its top eight point-getters from last season, led by sophomores Dante Fantoni and David DiMaria, who posted 40 (26g, 14a) and 33 points (9g, 24a), respectively. Junior Adam Johnston is the top returning goal scorer with 27.
Junior Cameron Lao-Gosney spearheads a strong returning midfield, with his 22 goals and eight assists from a year ago. Senior captain Richard Bradley, junior Blaise Fullen (Penn Charter) and freshman Ty Souders (Emmaus) spearhead the defense, while captain Will Scudder (Haverford School) returns as the top face-off man after winning 55.8 percent (140-251) of his draws a year ago. Sophomore goaltender Dan Carr (Penn Charter) also returns in the cage after going 7-5 in 12 starts as a freshman.
Lehigh opens its season on Feb. 12 against Saint Joseph’s at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m. The Mountain Hawks then hit the road the following Saturday to face preseason No. 20 Villanova. The first Patriot League game is set for Mar. 1 at 7 p.m. against Navy.
During the teleconference meeting, coaches expressed their condolences to head coach Kevin Cassese and the Lehigh Lacrosse family for the loss of former captain Shane Donlan, who passed away last week following a fall from a Las Vegas hotel on the strip. Donlan played for Lehigh from 2006-09.
Cassese mentioned that many members of the team attended services for Donlan this week.
Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Army (12 first-place votes)
2. Navy (1 first-place vote)
3. Bucknell (1 first-place vote)
7. Holy Cross
Preseason Players of the Year
Offense: Jeremy Boltus, Sr., A, Army
Defense: Bill Henderson, Sr., D, Army
CBS College Sports: Patriot League Package
April 8, Maryland @ Navy
April 9, Colgate @ Navy (Women)
April 16, Army @ Navy
April 17, UNC @ Lehigh
April 23, Bucknell @ Colgate
April 23, Lehigh @ Navy (Women)
April 29, Patriot League Semifinals (Highest Seed Hosts)
April 30, Patriot League Women’s Championship (Highest Seed Hosts)
May 1, Patriot League Championship
May 6, Johns Hopkins @ Army