Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Tournament Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Junior Garrett Thul, a first-team All-League selection in 2012, leads Army into the Patriot League Tournament.
Junior Garrett Thul, a first-team All-League selection in 2012, leads Army into the Patriot League Tournament.

April 26, 2012

2012 Patriot League Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Central

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The three most important games of the season are set for this weekend as Colgate hosts Army, Bucknell and Lehigh for the 2012 Patriot League Men’s Lacrosse Tournament.

2012 Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Tournament Preview Get Acrobat Reader

Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton, N.Y., will serve as the site for the four-team tournament. The same four teams have qualified for the bracket for the second year in a row, though the semifinal matchups are different.

All three games in the Patriot League Tournament will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network. Dave Ryan will provide the play-by-play, with Evan Washburn handling the analysis.

Top-seeded Colgate takes to the field first to play No. 4 Bucknell Friday at 5 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Patriot League championship game. It will mark the fourth time the two have met within the confines of the Patriot League Tournament, with Colgate owning a 2-1 advantage. The Raiders defeated the Bison 11-10 in the 2007 semifinals, and won 13-9 in the 2008 title game. Bucknell picked up its first tournament win over Colgate with a 10-3 triumph in last year’s championship contest.

The two clubs will be meeting for the second time in as many weeks. Colgate rallied for an 11-10 victory at Bucknell last Friday in a game that was televised on CBS Sports Network. The victory clinched the tournament’s top seed for the Raiders.

No. 2 seed Lehigh battles third-seeded Army in Friday’s second semifinal at 8 p.m. The Mountain Hawks captured the regular-season meeting 7-6 on March 17 in Bethlehem, Pa., in a typically tightly-contested Patriot League matchup. Lehigh, which is making its second straight and fourth overall appearance in the tournament, is seeded the highest its ever been, and was a regular-season loss at Colgate away from hosting this weekend’s four-team field.

Sunday's championship game between the semifinal winners is set for 3 p.m.

Three weeks ago, Army was 4-6 overall and 1-2 in the Patriot League entering a critical contest at Bucknell. Devin Lynch’s double-overtime game-winner started the Black Knights’ current three-game win streak, which includes a 9-6 triumph at West Point over rival Navy that clinched a berth in the League Tournament for the eighth straight year.

Lehigh and Army have never met in the tournament before.

With the Patriot League Tournament here and the NCAA Tournament just around the corner, there have been two bracketology predictions this week that have put three League teams in the big dance. Recent predictions on and Inside Lacrosse have placed Bucknell, Colgate and Lehigh in the NCAAs.

The Patriot League has received multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament twice before. The last time it occurred was 2008, when Colgate defeated Bucknell 13-9 to claim the automatic berth, while Navy was an at-large selection. The Patriot League also sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2004, with League champion Navy making the field along with at-large selections Hobart and Army. That season the Mids advanced all the way to the national title game before falling 14-13 to Syracuse.

Patriot League Tournament Notebook

The four-team Patriot League Tournament returns to Hamilton, N.Y. for the second time and first since 2006. The bracket is making its debut at Andy Kerr Stadium, as the tournament was held at Tyler’s Field six years ago. Despite tying atop the Patriot League standings at 5-1 with Lehigh, the Raiders captured the tournament’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage thanks to an 11-10 overtime victory over the Mountain Hawks April 7 in Hamilton.

CBS Sports Network has been the television partner of the Patriot League all season long, and it will televise the three biggest men’s lacrosse games of the League season with the two semifinal contests and the championship of the tournament this weekend. Dave Ryan will handle the play-by-play, with Evan Washburn providing the analysis. The network has televised five previous contests involving League teams this season, including four critical League contests. Last Friday Colgate’s come-from-behind win at Bucknell was shown to a national audience on CBS Sports Network, as was Navy’s throttling of No. 6/7 Johns Hopkins in Annapolis, Md., a day later.

Last year Bucknell became the fifth No. 1 seed in eight Patriot League Tournaments to hold serve at home throughout the bracket and emerge with the trophy and the accompanying NCAA Tournament berth. Colgate is looking to join that group and become the sixth top seed in nine tournaments. The Raiders have been the top seed once before in 2006. Colgate fell 10-8 to fourth-seeded Army in the semifinals.

As is normally the case in the Patriot League, the games have been incredibly close during the regular season, especially between the four teams that eventually qualified for the tournament. Five of the six regular-season tilts between the four squads were determined by just one goal, while the sixth was by two. A pair of contests required overtime, with both taking place April 7. Army logged a 6-5 double-overtime victory at Bucknell, while Colgate outlasted Lehigh 11-10 in the first extra period.

Twenty-three of the 26 members of the All-Patriot League team, which was announced earlier this week, are playing in this weekend’s tournament. Lehigh led the way with eight honorees, with three on the first team and five on the second team. Army, Bucknell and Colgate each placed five on the All-League team, with Navy, the first team out of the League Tournament, having the remaining three selections. In addition, all six major award winners are in Hamilton this weekend. Colgate’s Peter Baum was named Offensive Player of the Year and teammate Ryan Walsh was tabbed Rookie of the Year by the head coaches. Lehigh’s Matt Poillon was named Goalkeeper of the Year and his skipper Kevin Cassese was honored as Coach of the Year. Army’s Tim Henderson claimed the Defensive Player of the Year honor, while his defensive teammate Brendan Buckley was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

For the second season in a row, three Patriot League student-athletes were officially named to the list of 25 candidates for the Tewaaraton Trophy, awarded to the top player in college lacrosse. Juniors Garrett Thul of Army and Peter Baum of Colgate are on the list for the second year in a row, and they are joined by Bucknell senior Billy Eisenreich. All three were named first-team All-Patriot League at attack earlier this week by the seven head coaches. Nine Patriot Leaguers were named to the initial Tewaaraton Award Watch List at the start of the season, with a 10th added in early April. The list was whittled down to 25 official candidates this week. Army’s Jeremy Boltus was a finalist for the prestigious award last season. The honor is presented annually by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance to the top men’s and women’s college lacrosse players across all divisions. The list will be further narrowed down when 10 finalists are announced in May. The winner will be announced May 31 at the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Army junior close defenseman Brendan Buckley was named the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year in men’s lacrosse earlier this week. Voting was conducted by the League’s sports information directors who could not cast a ballot for their own student-athletes. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year is the League’s most prestigious award and honors those who best represent the League’s vision and model of a scholar-athlete. Buckley has been one of the League’s top defensemen all season long and enters the season tops in the League and 10th nationally averaging 2.08 caused turnovers per game. In the classroom, Buckley has a 3.992 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in engineering management.

Army is making its eighth consecutive appearance in the Patriot League Tournament, where it owns an overall mark of 4-6 with one League title (2010). Bucknell is also no stranger to the League Tournament, having qualified for the seventh year in a row, where it also owns a 4-6 record and one championship (2011). Colgate is 4-5 overall and won the 2008 title, while Lehigh is 0-3 in the tournament all-time and is seeking its first championship.

Patriot League Tournament Preview

NO. 4 BUCKNELL BISON (9-6, 3-3 PL) AT NO. 1 COLGATE RAIDERS (11-2, 5-1 PL)
Andy Kerr Stadium; Hamilton, N.Y. • Friday, 5 p.m.
Series: Bucknell, 20-11 TV: CBS Sports Network
Streak: Colgate, One Win Last Meeting: Colgate, 11-10 (4.20.12)
Last Bucknell Win: 10-3 (5.1.11) Last Five Games: Bucknell, 4-1
PL Tournament Series: Colgate, 2-1 PLT Streak: Bucknell, One Win
Last PLT Meeting: Bucknell, 10-3 (5.1.11; Championship) Last Colgate PLT Win vs. BU: 13-9 (4.27.08; Championship)

PREVIEW Bucknell and Colgate meet for the second time in as many weeks when the top-seeded Raiders entertain the No. 4 seed Bison in the opening game of the Patriot League Tournament Friday at 5 p.m. at Andy Kerr Stadium ... Bucknell had won four straight overall against the Raiders dating back to 2009, including three regular-season contests and the 2011 championship game, before Colgate’s 11-10 win April 20 at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg, Pa. ... The contest will feature two of the Patriot League’s three candidates for the Tewaaraton Trophy in Colgate junior Peter Baum and Bucknell senior Billy Eisenreich ... Baum leads the nation in goals (3.92 gpg) and is second in points (5.23), and sits atop the League in both categories ... Eisenreich has 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points on the season, and was the first player in the nation to join the 30-30 club this spring ... Eisenreich leads the League and is fifth nationally averaging 2.13 dishes per game ... Baum and Eisenreich were both named first-team All-Patriot League earlier this week by the head coaches ... The contest features the League’s two highest-scoring offenses ... Colgate is second in the nation averaging 13.54 goals per game, while Bucknell posts an average of 11.33 per game ... A total of 10 All-League performers will suit up for this game, with five on each side ... The Raiders lead the League in face-off percentage, led by first-team All-League performer Robert Grabher, whose 59.7 percent success rate at the ‘X’ is 14th in the country ... Grabher is second in the country averaging 8.08 ground balls per game.

Andy Kerr Stadium; Hamilton, N.Y. • Friday, 8 p.m.
Series: Army, 20-4 TV: CBS Sports Network
Streak: Lehigh, One Win Last Meeting: Lehigh, 7-6 (3.17.12)
Last Army Win: 12-9 (3.22.11) Last Five Games: Army, 3-2
PL Tournament Series: First Meeting

PREVIEW Friday’s second semifinal in the Patriot League Tournament features second-seeded Lehigh taking on No. 3 Army ... The Black Knights have dominated the series with victories in 20 of the 24 matchups, but Lehigh has picked up two victories in the last four, including a 7-6 win March 17 in Bethlehem, Pa., during the regular season ... Army has qualified for the last eight Patriot League Tournaments, while Lehigh is in for the second straight year and fourth time overall ... While the first semifinal features two potent offenses, this could be a low-scoring affair, as Lehigh is second in the nation in scoring defense (6.07 gpg) while Army is second in the League and 16th nationally (8.77) ... Both teams are extremely efficient in man-up chances, as Lehigh leads the nation converting 55.3 percent of its extra-man opportunities, while Army is third at 51.4 percent ... Lehigh’s 12 wins tied a program record first met in 1994, when that Mountain Hawk squad finished the season 12-3 ... 5-1 is also Lehigh’s best showing in the Patriot League regular season ... Thirteen members of the All-League team are playing in this contest Friday, with Lehigh boasting eight and Army five ... Lehigh freshman Matt Poillon was named Goalkeeper of the Year, and he enters the tournament with the nation’s second-best goals-against average (6.00) ... Army junior Brendan Buckley has emerged as the team’s top close defenseman ... He’s averaging 2.08 caused turnovers per game, which is tops in the League and 10th nationally ... Army’s Derek Sipperly and Lehigh’s Ryan Snyder both garnered second-team All-League honors as face-off specialists ... Adding to the defensive flavor of the game is Army senior long pole Tim Henderson, who was named Defensive Player of the Year by the head coaches earlier this week.

LOOKING FORWARD If the higher seeds hold serve, Colgate will host Lehigh for the Patriot League championship Sunday afternoon in a rematch of the Raiders’ 11-10 overtime win April 7 ... Colgate also defeated Army 15-13 earlier this season at West Point ... If Bucknell prevails in the semifinals, it will be seeking payback for a one-goal loss earlier in the year no matter the opponent ... The Bison fell 6-5 in double overtime to Army April 7 at home, and loss 9-8 at Lehigh April 14.