Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Release - 4.4.12

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Colgate goalkeeper Jared Madison and the No. 17/16 Raiders host seventh-ranked Lehigh Saturday at 2 p.m. in a key Patriot League matchup.
Colgate goalkeeper Jared Madison and the No. 17/16 Raiders host seventh-ranked Lehigh Saturday at 2 p.m. in a key Patriot League matchup.

April 4, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Another weekend went by and a tie remains at the top of the Patriot League standings as the page in the calendar turned from March to April.

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With wins last weekend, both Bucknell and Lehigh maintained their positions at the top of the League, and now find themselves in position to wrap up bids to the Patriot League Tournament, which lurks at the end of the month. The Bison followed up a 9-6 non-League win at Penn State with a nip-and-tuck 10-9 triumph at Holy Cross Saturday afternoon in Worcester. Junior Kyle Feeney logged his first Goalkeeper of the Week nod of the season after posting back-to-back 13-save performances. The biggest stop of his 26 on the week came in the final seconds against the Crusaders, who were looking for the equalizer to force overtime. Bucknell has won eight straight games and is one of the hottest teams in the nation following a season-opening three-game skid.

One of very few teams in the country that’s even hotter than the Bison is Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks continue to raise eyebrows by becoming the first team to hit double figures in wins. Their defensive prowess was on display in Friday’s 9-4 victory at Navy in front of a national television audience on CBS Sports Network. Down 4-1 with 12:02 remaining in the second quarter, the Mountain Hawks stifled a Midshipmen offense that featured the nation’s second-leading point scorer in reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year Tucker Hull. Lehigh blanked Navy for the final 42:02 of the contest and scored eight times during that stretch.

Colgate was looking to rebound from last week’s one-goal loss at home to Navy, but the Raiders knew it wouldn’t be easy at West Point. Going up against the Black Knights on the road is never easy. Perhaps the person on the Colgate sideline who knew that the most was first-year head coach Mike Murphy, who spent the last eight seasons as an Army assistant. The Raiders did, in fact, rebound with a strong performance and came away with a 15-13 win at Michie Stadium to move to 2-1 in League play and hop over Navy into third place for now. Colgate has been no stranger to offense this season, but Army got into the act as well. While the two combined for 28 goals in the game, the last 10 were scored in the final frantic 7:06.

Lafayette played a non-League contest Saturday at Fisher Stadium against No. 19/20 Georgetown. The Leopards and Hoyas were even up at 3-all at halftime, but Georgetown scored four times in the third quarter en route to an 8-5 win. Jake Hyatt made 15 saves for Lafayette, which could not overcome the Hoyas’ four extra-man goals.

The Leopards were the only team with midweek action, as they visited Marist Tuesday night. Despite erasing several deficits, Lafayette couldn’t complete the comeback one final time and fell 11-10 in overtime.

Navy opens the weekend when it steps out of the Patriot League to visit No. 12 Maryland Friday at 7 p.m. League play resumes Saturday on CBS Sports Network when No. 15/13 Bucknell hosts Army at noon. Dave Ryan and Steve Panarelli will have the call once again.

Lehigh, which held steady at No. 7 in both polls Monday, hits the road again to visit No. 17/16 Colgate Saturday at 2 p.m., while Holy Cross and Lafayette will do battle at 4 p.m. in Worcester.

Two squads step out of League play again Tuesday when Holy Cross hosts Bryant and Bucknell welcomes Penn.

Patriot League Notebook

The first berths to the Patriot League Tournament could be sewn up Saturday. Bucknell and Lehigh are both 3-0 in the League standings and are tied for first place, and each would clinch a tournament bid with a win. The Bison are home for Army Saturday at noon on CBS Sports Network, while the Mountain Hawks play their second straight League game on the road when they visit Colgate at 2 p.m.

While bids are at stake Saturday for Bucknell and Lehigh, a win for either would also advance the race for hosting duties for the Patriot League Tournament. Lehigh hit the road and used stellar defense in a 9-4 victory at 19th-ranked Navy Friday night on CBS Sports Network to take over the top spot in the League at 3-0. It was short lived, however, as Bucknell pulled even again with the Mountain Hawks thanks to the Bison’s 10-9 win Saturday at Holy Cross. Peter Burke scored the game-winner with 22 seconds left, and Kyle Feeney’s big save in the closing seconds preserved the win.

Last week it was first-place Lehigh showcasing its defense and resilience on CBS Sports Network, turning a 4-1 second-quarter deficit at Navy into a 9-4 victory at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. This weekend, the other of the League’s first-place teams is showcased when Bucknell, winners of eight straight, host Army at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg, Pa., Saturday at noon. Dave Ryan will handle the play-by-play and Steve Panarelli will be the analyst. It’s the second of five straight weekends where CBS Sports Network will nationally televise either Patriot League regular-season or tournament contests.

Colgate has jumped out to an 8-2 overall mark and a 2-1 record in the Patriot League thanks to its offense. Junior attackman Peter Baum continues to lead the nation averaging 4.2 goals and 5.5 points per game, while the Raider offense is chugging along as a whole. Colgate is tops in the country averaging 13.6 goals per contest, and that level was raised slightly with the Raiders’ 15-13 victory at Army on Saturday. Baum scored six times in that game, including his 100th career tally.

Something will have to give when No. 7/7 Lehigh heads to Hamilton, N.Y., Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. tilt at No. 17/16 Colgate. While the Raiders have put together the nation’s highest scoring offense at 13.6 goals per game (as of Monday), Lehigh has jumped out to its best start in program history thanks to the country’s stingiest defense. The Mountain Hawks are surrendering an NCAA-low 5.45 goals per game, spearheaded by freshman goalkeeper Matt Poillon, whose 5.43 goals-against average leads the country and his save percentage of 62.4 is third nationally.

The Patriot League’s top three offensive players continue to be Peter Baum of Colgate, Bucknell’s Billy Eisenreich and Tucker Hull of Navy. The three student-athletes sit first, third and fifth, respectively, in the nation in points per game. Baum, a junior, is the leader at 5.5 points per game, while Eisenreich has nudged ahead of Hull at 4.73. Hull is averaging 4.67 points per game. Baum also has the nation’s best goal-scoring average at 4.2 per game, while Eisenreich (2.55) and Hull (2.22) are second and sixth, respectively, in the country in assist average.

Lehigh’s 9-4 victory at Navy Friday night improved the Mountain Hawks to 10-1 on the season, giving them the title of the first squad in the nation to reach double figures in wins. It marks the first time since 1997 that Lehigh has reached 10 victories, as that year the school finished 11-4. In addition, the Mountain Hawks are 3-0 in League play for the first time since 1999, their last Patriot League crown.

The Patriot League has not had a repeat champion in each of the last four years. The Bison doubled as regular-season and tournament champions a year ago, going 6-0 in League play and holding serve by winning two tournament games in Lewisburg, Pa., to earn the League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. There has not been a repeat League champion since Navy’s four-year run from 2004-07. From 2004-08, the Mids won or shared a piece of the regular-season championship as well.

Army junior Garrett Thul entered the season with 83 career goals, so it was only a matter of time before he surpassed the century mark. With 29 goals so far in 2012, he’s done exactly that and now sits with 112 career markers, placing him one shy of cracking the Patriot League’s all-time top 10. Trailing close behind is Colgate’s Peter Baum, who has 105 for his career and is also in his junior season. Lafayette’s Tom Perini was the last Patriot Leaguer to crack the League’s top 10 in career goals. He finished his career last season tied for fourth with 127 goals.

The Patriot League is having some of its best success in quite some time against out-of-conference opponents. Entering the weekend, the seven teams are a combined 29-18 in non-League play, and are 6-10 against non-conference USILA top-20 teams and 6-9 against foes ranked in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll. The League is .500 or better against six conferences, including the NEC (5-0), the MAAC (5-2), the ECAC (3-2), the Colonial (5-3), the ACC (1-1) and America East (5-1).

CBS Sports Network, the official broadcast partner of the Patriot League, has several men’s lacrosse games on the docket in 2012. The slate began with Lehigh’s 9-4 win at Navy on Friday evening, and continues Saturday with No. 15/13 Bucknell entertaining Army at noon. Other games coming up include Navy at Army (Saturday, April 14, 12 p.m.), Colgate at Bucknell (Friday, April 20, 7 p.m.) and all three games of the Patriot League Tournament, April 27/29, from the site of the highest seed.

Three of the seven Patriot League teams feature new head coaches this season. Mike Murphy was named the new leading voice at Colgate after spending the last eight seasons as an assistant at Army, including two years under the legendary Jack Emmer and the final six on Joe Alberici’s staff. Navy’s new head coach is Rick Sowell, who led Stony Brook to consecutive America East regular-season titles in 2010 and ‘11 and was named the conference’s Coach of the Year both seasons. He was 47-26 in his five years at Stony Brook. The third is Jim Morrissey, who took over as interim head coach at Holy Cross midway through the 2011 campaign before earning the full-time tag during the offseason.

Two student-athletes have met the Patriot League record for goals in a game this season, with it occurring twice in two weeks. Colgate’s Peter Baum first achieved the standard with eight markers in the Raiders’ 24-14 walloping of Robert Morris March 3, and Bucknell’s Todd Heritage matched it in the Bison’s 14-10 victory over Hobart a week later. Lehigh’s Mark Duncan was the first to score eight goals in a game in 1997. The record has been matched five times since, including four times in the last three seasons. Bucknell’s Billy Eisenreich is not to be left out of the offensive parade, as he matched a school record with 11 points in The Bison’s 17-10 triumph against Robert Morris on March 20.

A total of nine student-athletes in the Patriot League were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List in men’s lacrosse in February, and a 10th was added Wednesday. Holy Cross junior James Kennedy was one of nine additions made Wednesday to the list, which was originally unveiled in February. Army, Bucknell, Lehigh and Navy each have two student-athletes named to the watch list, while Colgate boasts one. Kennedy joins senior Tim Henderson and junior Garrett Thul from Army; senior Billy Eisenreich and junior Kyle Feeney from Bucknell; junior Peter Baum from Colgate; juniors Dante Fantoni and Ryan Snyder from Lehigh; and senior Nikk Davis and sophomore Sam Jones from Navy. Both of this year’s preseason major award winners in the Patriot League are on the list. Baum was the coaches’ and SIDs’ selection as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Henderson was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Coming off an impressive 14-3 season, an undefeated run through the Patriot League and an overtime loss to eventual national champion Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the defending Patriot League Champion Bucknell Bison topped the 2012 preseason men’s lacrosse poll. Bucknell claimed the No. 1 position with the maximum 72 points and 12 first-place votes. The Bison finished 18 points ahead of second-place Army, which collected 54 points and the remaining two first-place ballots. 2011 runner-up Colgate took a close third with 52 points, while Lehigh was next in fourth with 44 points. Taking fifth was Navy with 38 points, while Lafayette (19 points) and Holy Cross (15) rounded out the poll in sixth and seventh, respectively. Colgate junior Peter Baum was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Army senior Tim Henderson was tabbed as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.