By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/8/12
Lehigh senior face-off specialist Ryan Snyder made the point loud and clear: The Mountain Hawks are shooting for the top in 2013.
“If we don’t win the national championship we haven’t reached our goal,” said the said Reading native (grad of Kent School, Conn.) and former Duke’s Lacrosse Club standout. “Last year we had our sights set on winning the Patriot League championship, but this year the bar is set higher.
“Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.”
(Check our a number of games streamed by Accesslacrosse.com from the Nick Colleluori Classic.)
Snyder said his comments Saturday after Lehigh competed in its first of two games at the 6th Annual Nick Colleluori Classic at Ridley High. The two-day event drew nearly 10,000 fans and raised money and awareness for the HEADstrong Foundation’s fight against blood cancer.
Last year was a break out year for Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks won their first-ever Patriot League crown (14-3 record) and advanced to the NCAAs where they hosted Maryland in the first round. They had a great chance to win, but fell, 10-9, to a team that eventually reached the NCAA finals for the second straight year.
This year Lehigh returns a large number of starters. It must replace two key midfielders with the graduation of Lao-Gosney twins, but expectations are clearly at a high point.
Lehigh split two games on Saturday, toppling Hofstra, 10-7, and then bowing to Robert Morris, 12-11, as the offense looked strong but the veteran defense struggled at times.
“The offense surprised us; it was moving the ball well and we scored a lot of different ways,” said Snyder, who won 141 of 282 face-offs (50 percent) last year. “Our defense was a little off; we weren’t really sliding well. That’s to be expected at this point of the fall.
“The point of the tournament is to see what we can do and learn from that.”
Snyder said competing in the tournament for the fourth straight year was an honor.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “The best part is how amazing the cause is. Every year we go around selling t-shirts. It’s great to help contribute to the cause and the competition is just great. It’s a great tournament in all aspects.”
Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese, who quickly broke in some freshmen, also liked the offense and was a little disappointed with the defense in the first game.
“I was pleasantly surprised with our offense,” he said. “We had some midfielders step up. We lost two four-year starters (Lao-Gosneys) and they were kind of our midfield.
“But our defense didn’t play as sharp as it had in our first 13 practices. But that’ why we are here; Hofstra exposed us defensively, and we give them credit, too.”
Cassese said the Colleluori Classic is a magical tournament; his team has gone five of the six years it has been held.
“It’s a terrific day,” he said. “We have been here all but one year and we love it. I have so much respect for the Colleluori family and so much respect for what they do for this event and the HEADstrong Foundation.
“We are happy to be a small part of it.”
Tomorrow: Recapping Villanova and Philly Division III teams at the Nick Colleluori Classic. Wednesday: St. Joseph’s