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Men’s playoffs: Lehigh hosts Patriot League tourney Friday, Sunday

Thursday, 25th April 2013

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/25/13
From Press Release

The #14/16 nationally-ranked and top-seeded Lehigh men’s lacrosse team will open the Patriot League Tournament Friday night when it hosts fourth-seeded Colgate. Opening faceoff at the Ulrich Sports Complex is set for 7:30 p.m. following the first game of the day featuring second-seeded Bucknell against third-seeded Army at 4:30 p.m.

The entire Patriot League Tournament will air live nation-wide on CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan, Evan Washburn and Sheehan Stanwick Burch on the call.

Tickets are available online at www.lehightickets.com or by calling the box office at 610-758-6611. A capacity crowd is expected. One ticket gets fans into both games on Friday.

“I am so proud to see the sport of the lacrosse booming in the Lehigh Valley,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “During my six years as the head coach at Lehigh, we’ve tried very hard as a coaching staff and as a program to help grow the sport in this area.

“We wanted to win the Patriot League Regular Season Championship and the tournament hosting privileges not only for the current members of this team, their families and our alums, but also for the great fans and supporters of our program here in the Lehigh Valley. I have no doubt they will come out in droves to support the home team.”

The Mountain Hawks are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back Patriot League Championships since Navy in 2006-07. Lehigh won its first-ever Patriot League Tournament Title a season ago, beating Army in the Semifinals then beating Friday’s opponent, the Raiders, on their home turf in the Championship Game. The Mountain Hawks have advanced to their third straight Patriot League Tournament for the first time in school history; the previous high was two straight.

Lehigh defeated Colgate in the regular season meeting, 13-10 as the Mountain Hawks broke an 8-8 tie after three quarters to pull out their third of five straight victories heading into the postseason. Senior Dante Fantoni led the way with six points (three goals, three assists) while David DiMaria had five (one goal, four assists). Fantoni eclipsed 100 career goals in that game while DiMaria surpassed 100 assists. Sophomore Patrick Corbett scored a career-high four goals.

This marks Lehigh’s second-ever Patriot League Regular Season Championship, but first time it’s hosted the Patriot League Tournament. The squad won the 1999 regular season title before there was a league tournament and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Friday features two games followed by the championship game on Sunday. Lehigh hopes to win two games and advance to the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season after never doing so in the program’s 100+ year history before.

Lehigh is 2-3 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament with both wins coming last year.

Colgate enters the Patriot League Tournament with an 8-5 overall record and 3-3 in league play. After beginning the season 7-2, the Raiders have lost three of their last four, to Army (10-4), Lehigh (13-10) and Bucknell (13-8).

Colgate is led offensively by 2012 Tewaaraton Award Winner Peter Baum who has 46 points (33 goals, 13 assists), Second Team All-Patriot League honoree Ryan Walsh has 44 (33 goals, 11 assists) and Brendon McCann has 24 (17 goals, seven assists). All-League defenseman Bobby Lawrence leads the defense with 56 groundballs while Robert Grabher has won 148-of-282 faceoffs (52.5 percent) with a team-high 96 groundballs. Conor Murphy has seen the majority of time in goal, owning an 8.85 GAA and 52.5 save percentage.

Lehigh has won two straight over Colgate, but the Raiders own a 27-12 lead in the all-time series. The Mountain Hawks won the regular season meeting (13-10) and last season’s Patriot League Championship Game (16-14).

That title game win snapped a streak of seven straight Colgate victories and marked Lehigh’s first win over the Raiders since 2005. The sides first met in 1956, a Colgate victory. Lehigh’s first win came in 1960 by an 8-6 final. Lehigh’s most success came via a four-game winning streak from 1992-95.

“Our team mission and all of our on-field goals center around the Patriot League Tournament Championship,” said Cassese. “We work our players extremely hard for 12 weeks in the fall semester.

“We ask them to work really hard on their own for four weeks during winter break and, we work them even harder in January, February, and March so we can put ourselves in position to play our very best lacrosse in April, and especially at the end of April. In our program, it is a minimum expectation that we compete for a championship every single year. We have put ourselves in position to do that. The time is now.”

Should the Mountain Hawks win, they would host the winner of Friday’s first game of the day (Army-Bucknell) on Sunday at 3 p.m. for the Patriot League Championship and berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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