Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/11/13
From Press Release
The two-time defending Patriot League Champion and #10 nationally-ranked Lehigh men’s lacrosse team begins its second straight NCAA Tournament today when it heads to North Carolina to face the fifth-seeded and top-ranked Tar Heels.
Opening faceoff is set for 12 p.m. on ESPN2 with Eamon McAnaney and Paul Carcaterra on the call. Lehigh returns to the site of its biggest win of 2012 when the unranked Mountain Hawks upset #4 UNC 9-8 to spark a run to their first NCAA Tourney appearance.
Both Lehigh and North Carolina have been off since their respective championship games on Apr. 28. The Mountain Hawks beat Bucknell 11-5 for the Patriot League Championship while UNC beat Virginia 16-13 for its first ACC Title since 1996. Saturday’s matchup features the two hottest teams in the nation as the Tar Heels are riding a nine-game winning streak while the Mountain Hawks have won seven straight.
Following a 5-4 start to the season, Lehigh has won seven in a row to become the first team since Navy six years ago to win back-to-back Patriot League Titles. The Mountain Hawks jumped ahead of Bucknell 5-0 in the Patriot League Title Game before cruising to victory. It marked the second straight title game that Lehigh jumped out to a 5-0 advantage. In both games, sophomore Dan Taylor got the scoring started and posted two first-quarter goals.
Senior David DiMaria was named Patriot League Tournament MVP with 11 points over the two games to up his season total to 68 (31 goals, 37 assists). Taylor has 50 points (29 goals, 21 assists) and senior Dante Fantoni 46 (26 goals, 20 assists). Midfielders and Second Team All-Patriot League honorees Patrick Corbett and Brian Hess have posted 24 and 21 points, respectively.
Along with DiMaria, other All-Tournament honorees included senior Dante Fantoni, junior Ryan Buttenbaum and sophomore Matt Poillon. Fantoni had five points in the title game (three goals, two assists), Buttenbaum won 7-of-13 faceoffs with five groundballs and Poillon stopped 10-of-15 shots between the pipes including all five in the first quarter.
All Poillon has done since arriving on campus is win. His career record is 25-5, the 25 wins good for eighth in the nation among active goalies. Poillon is the only sophomore on the list and only 14 behind the nation’s leader – Kyle Feeney of Bucknell. In total, seven of the nation’s top nine goalies in career victories are playing in the NCAA Tournament.
The winner of Saturday’s Lehigh-North Carolina game will face the winner of #4 Denver and Albany in the National Quarterfinals on Sunday, May 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Tar Heels are led offensively by Marcus Holman who has 74 points (36 goals, 38 assists). Joey Sankey comes in at 50 (34 goals, 16 assists) and Jimmy Bitter has 47 (29 goals, 18 assists). Four others have reached double-digit points, including Chad Tutton with 30 (24 goals, six assists). All-American R.G. Keenan has won 53 percent at the faceoff X (178-of-336) with a team-leading 101 groundballs. Kieran McDonald is next with 59 and Kieran Burke 47. Burke, a freshman, has seen the majority of time in goal, owning a 10.14 GAA and 55.2 save percentage.
North Carolina leads the all-time series, 4-3-1 but the Mountain Hawks won the most recent meeting last season, 9-8. Lehigh won the first two meetings in 1950 and 1951 by 6-5 and 6-3 finals, respectively. The squads tied in 1952. The first meeting in 48 years saw North Carolina win 11-10 in 2000 before reeling off three straight after that, in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The unranked Mountain Hawks posted a huge 9-8 road win last season
With a win, Lehigh would advance to the National Quarterfinals for the first time in program history where it would face the winner of Albany and Denver at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.