May 6, 2012
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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - For the fourth time in history and first since 2008, the Patriot League earned multiple bids to the 16-team NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament, it was announced Sunday evening during the selection show on ESPNU.
Lehigh, which is making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament, punched its ticket after claiming the Patriot League championship last weekend with victories over Army and Colgate. The Mountain Hawks earned the No. 7 seed and will host Maryland Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in Bethlehem, Pa.
Colgate, which fell to the Mountain Hawks in the Patriot League championship game in a 16-14 shootout, boosted their profile with a 13-11 win over the Terrapins Saturday afternoon. The Raiders were rewarded with an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament. They will go on the road to visit undefeated Massachusetts Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Amherst, Mass. The Minutemen are seeded sixth.
Both games will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
UMass is the only remaining undefeated team in Division I (15-0), and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Towson 8-3 in the semifinals and Drexel 18-12 in the finals of the CAA Tournament.
Maryland owns a 9-5 mark and is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terrapins earned an at-large berth.
The Patriot League has multiple teams in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, when Colgate earned the automatic bid as League champion and Navy was selected as an at-large team. Multiple teams have represented the League as well in 2004 and 2005.
In each of those three years, at least one team has won a first-round contest. Navy did it all three times.
Lehigh (14-2) set a school record and tied the Patriot League mark for victories this season, and was ranked near the top of the national statistics most of the spring in scoring defense. The Mountain Hawks placed a League-high eight student-athletes on the All-Patriot League team two weeks ago, and boast the League's Goalkeeper of the Year (Matt Poillon, Fr.) and Coach of the Year (Kevin Cassese).
The Mountain Hawks made a statement earlier in the season with a 9-8 win at North Carolina March 3, part of a nine-game win streak before falling 11-10 in overtime April 7 at Colgate. Lehigh exacted some revenge for that regular-season defeat by winning the Patriot League title game in Hamilton, N.Y.
Lehigh is the first Patriot League team to host an NCAA Tournament contest since Navy in 2005. The Mids defeated Delaware, 9-7, in Annapolis, Md.
Colgate (13-3) set a school mark for victories this season under first-year head coach Mike Murphy, who was named to the post after an eight-year stint as an assistant at Army. Murphy was on the sidelines for the Black Knights' 9-8 double-overtime upset of defending national champion Syracuse in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Raiders boast Tewaaraton Trophy candidate Peter Baum, a junior whose 64 goals and 93 points this season are Patriot League records.
Patriot League teams have been involved in one-goal games in the NCAA's first round in three of the last four years. Bucknell came within a hair of upsetting eventual national champion Virginia last season when the Bison fell 13-12 in overtime in Charlottesville. Navy was an 8-7 winner at North Carolina and Colgate fell 8-7 at Notre Dame in 2008 in addition to Army's 9-8 victory at Syracuse two years ago.
The winner of the Lehigh-Maryland contest will take on either No. 2 Johns Hopkins or Stony Brook in Annapolis in the quarterfinals, while the Colgate-UMass winner will have a date with either third-seeded Duke or Syracuse in Chester, Pa. Quarterfinal games are slated for May 19-20.
The national semifinals and championship are slated for Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on May 26 and 28.