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Patriot League championship: @LehighLacrosse travels to No. 1 Loyola in hopes of 3rd straight league title

Sunday, 27th April 2014

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/27/14
From Press Release

Coming off a dramatic semifinal victory over #14/15 Army, the #18 nationally-ranked and third-seeded Lehigh men’s lacrosse team will vie for its third straight Patriot League Championship when it faces the top-seeded, host and #1 nationally-ranked Loyola Greyhounds today at 1 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Sophomore Reid Weber (Germantown Academy) scored the game-winning goal with just 3.7 seconds left in regulation Friday to send the Mountain Hawks to their third straight title game.

Friday marked Lehigh’s sixth straight win in the Patriot League Tournament (all over the past three seasons). Sunday’s matchup features the two teams tied for the nation lead in victories; the Mountain Hawks are 13-4 while the Greyhounds are 13-1. Loyola has won 13 straight ever since a season-opening loss at Virginia. Both Lehigh and Loyola are vying for a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance as Sunday’s winner will receive the league’s automatic berth into the big dance.

Lehigh celebrates a goal Friday night, led by Kurtis KLaunas 95)

Lehigh celebrates a goal Friday night, No. 5 is Kurtis Kaunas (Parkland) – Photo courtesy of Lehigh sports

Junior Dan Taylor was the star offensively on Friday, finishing with four goals and four assists for eight points, his fourth game this season with eight or more points (all coming in the last ten games). Taylor also had a seven-point performance in that stretch. He has 72 points on the season, including 44 over his last seven games (an average of 6.3 per game. Lehigh became the first offense to reach double-figure goals against Army, the nation’s #1 ranked defense. The previous high was nine goals scored by Rutgers against the Black Knights. It took just 8:53 for Lehigh to score as many goals as it scored in the regular season meeting against Army (five).

Junior Matt Poillon and the defense struggled in the first half as Army’s John Glesener scored five goals on five shots, while adding an assist. Lehigh turned it around in the second, though, as Glesener was held pointless over the final 30 minutes and Poillon stopped eight-of-11 shots sent his way. The Mountain Hawks outscored the Black Knights 3-1 in the third quarter and 3-2 in the fourth for the 12-11 victory.

Weber posted his fourth-career hat trick capped off by the dramatic game-winner. Lehigh had possession for the final three minutes, taking several quality shots, but was unable to put one in the back of the goal. The Mountain Hawks kept possession and held for the final shot. Junior Patrick Corbett also scored two goals for a second straight game while classmate Kurtis Kaunas (Parkland) had his fourth straight multi-goal game. Kaunas got Lehigh on the scoreboard and scored twice in the five-goal first quarter. Junior Dylan O’Shaughnessy also scored a goal while adding two groundballs and a caused turnover. Sophomore Tripp Telesco finished with five groundballs and two caused turnovers.

Lehigh is now 23-3 against Patriot League teams over the past three seasons. The Mountain Hawks’ March 1 loss vs. Loyola snapped several streaks: six-game home winning streak, nine-game regular season win streak and 13-game winning streak against league foes. Lehigh was tied 3-3 after one quarter in the March 1 meeting with the Greyhounds. The Mountain Hawks’ offense has come alive as of late, reaching double-figure goals in seven of the last eight games. Friday’s win over Army marked Lehigh’s first victory this season when allowing double-figure goals.

Loyola enters Sunday’s championship game with a 13-1 record, winners of 13 straight after dropping the season opener at Virginia. The Greyhounds have had some tight wins, including a double overtime win at Navy, a one-goal victory over Army and two-goal win at Colgate. Loyola defeated Colgate 12-6 in Friday’s Patriot League Semifinal matchup. Loyola features the league’s Offensive Player of the Year (Justin Ward), Defensive Player of the Year (Joe Fletcher) and goalie of the Year (Jack Runkel). Ward owns a team-leading 60 points (15 goals, 45 assists) while Nikko Pontrello (St. Augustine Prep) has 54 (44 goals, 10 assists). Brian Schultz also owns 43 points (31 goals, 12 assists) while Kevin Ryan has 26 (22 goals, four assists). On the U.S. National Team, Fletcher leads the team with 66 groundballs and is second with 24 caused turnovers. Pat Laconi leads the way causing 27 turnovers. Graham Savio has won 54.9 percent of his faceoffs (129-of-235) with 63 groundballs. Runkel has impressed all season, with a 6.80 goals against average and 62.1 save percentage.

Loyola leads the all-time series, 8-0. The teams first met in 1942, a 12-1 Loyola win. The squads then met in 1947 and 1948 before reconvening in 1984 then again in the late 90s. The Greyhounds have controlled the majority of play, but the Mountain Hawks were close at home in 1997, falling 14-0. The teams didn’t meet for 17 years until the Mar. 1 meeting this season.

With a win, Lehigh would earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament which begins two weekends from now. The Mountain Hawks are searching for their third straight NCAA Tournament berth.

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