May 10, 2013
Patriot League Men's Lacrosse NCAA Tournament First Round Preview
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Lehigh has had a full year to reflect on its one-goal loss to eventual national runner-up Maryland in the NCAA Tournament’s First Round a season ago. Now the Mountain Hawks prepare to take the field Saturday at noon at No. 5 seed North Carolina. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with Eamon McAnaney on the play-by-play and Paul Calcaterra providing the analysis.
The Mountain Hawks are just the second team to win back-to-back Patriot League Tournament titles since the playoff was instituted in 2004, and first since Navy won the first four trophies from 2004-07. Saturday’s matchup also provides an intriguing matchup between two programs that shared the field over a year ago, and likely signaled Lehigh’s emergence as a program with national aspirations.
When the two last met on March 3, 2012, Lehigh captured a 9-8 win over the then-No. 4 Tar Heels in the third victory of what became a nine-game win streak. Despite an 11-10 overtime loss at Colgate that snapped the streak, the Mountain Hawks were able to continue building off the momentum of the UNC win to their first tournament title and NCAA berth in program history.
The winner of Saturday’s matchup will advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis the next weekend, where either No. 4 seed Denver or Albany will await.
North Carolina made history April 28 when it captured its first ACC title since 1996.
PATRIOT LEAGUE MEN’S LACROSSE QUICK HITS
• Lehigh is looking to become the second straight League team to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Colgate made it a year ago after defeating UMass 13-11 in Amherst, Mass., in the first round.
• The Patriot League has had teams win first round games in consecutive years just once: Navy in 2004 and ‘05.
• Lehigh senior David DiMaria is just two points shy of becoming just the fifth player in League history to score 70 in one season.
• The Mountain Hawks are ranked 10th in both the USILA and Nike/Inside Lacrosse polls as of Monday. Bucknell is 15th in the coaches rankings and 16th in the media voting.
• The League came just shy of sending two teams to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Despite ranking 11th in Monday’s NCAA RPI, Bucknell was denied an at-large invitation.
• Lehigh has won seven in a row since falling 6-4 to visiting UMass on March 20. Its streak is tied for the longest by a League team this season.
• The Mountain Hawks led with seven All-Patriot League selections and three Academic All-League honorees, which were announced in the days before the Patriot League Tournament.
• Sophomore keeper Matt Poillon is fourth in the country in goals-against average (7.37) and seventh in save percentage (.601).
Patriot League Notebook
LEHIGH GOES BACK-TO-BACK
Lehigh became the first team to win consecutive Patriot League Tournament titles since Navy’s stretch of four straight with its’ 11-5 victory over No. 2 seed Bucknell in the tournament’s championship game on April 28. The Mountain Hawks advanced to that point after handing fourth-seeded Colgate a 15-7 semifinal loss, while the Bison posted a 12-9 win over No. 3 Army. Lehigh senior David DiMaria was named Tournament MVP after collecting 11 points over the two games on five goals and six assists.
The news around the Patriot League’s senior class the last several years has revolved around Army’s Garrett Thul and Colgate’s Peter Baum, and for good reason. But Lehigh’s David DiMaria made sure his name will be included on that list from now on after scoring 11 points in the League Tournament and garnering MVP honors to lead the Mountain Hawks to their second straight conference tournament crown and NCAA Tournament berth. The senior is now sixth in League annals with 200 career points and seventh with 114 assists. His 37 dishes this season are tied for 10th on the League list as well.
END OF AN ERA
Army’s Garrett Thul and Colgate’s Peter Baum wrapped up their outstanding careers last weekend. Thul scored twice in the Black Knights’ 9-4 loss to Johns Hopkins, which tied him with Baum for the League’s all-time goal-scoring record with 163. Baum took the field on Saturday and scored once to give him goal No. 164 and the outright record in the Raiders’ loss at Maryland. Baum also finished his career with 225 points, good for third all-time in League annals.
Three student-athletes from the Patriot League have been named finalists for the Senior CLASS Award in the sport of men’s lacrosse. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Colgate’s Peter Baum, Army’s Brendan Buckley and Bucknell’s Mike Huffner were named finalists earlier this season. The winner will be announced at the NCAA championship in late May, and will be determined by a combination of fans, coaches and media votes.
This is an outstanding senior class the Patriot League boasts in 2013, but there’s also plenty of returning talent slated to take the field in ‘14. Fourteen of the 26 student-athletes who earned All-League laurels this year are underclassmen. Army’s John Glesener and Colgate’s Ryan Walsh, both All-League selections at attack, are sophomores. Bucknell’s David Dickson, a first-team All-Leaguer at midfield and now the League’s single-season record holder with 48 assists, is in the same class, as is Lehigh keeper Matt Poillon and Army stopper Sam Somers. Regarded as the League’s best long pole two years running, Navy’s Pat Kiernan will return next season for his senior campaign.
LEHIGH SEEKS NCAA REDEMPTION
A year ago Lehigh fought back from a 6-1 deficit to take a second-half lead, but ultimately fell 10-9 to a very talented Maryland team that advanced to the NCAA title game for the second straight season. With that experience (and a year to think about it) under their belts, the Mountain Hawks embark on this year’s trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., seeking their first program’s first NCAA victory and the Patriot League’s ninth.
BUCKLEY NAMED SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Army senior close defenseman Brendan Buckley secured the Patriot League’s most prestigious honor when he was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year in men’s lacrosse by the League’s sports information directors before the League Tournament. A native of Massapequa, N.Y., Buckley owns a 3.987 cumulative grade-point average at West Point majoring in engineering management. The accolades have poured in the last two seasons for the senior, who earned first-team Capital One Academic All-America honors last season en route to being named the Patriot League Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He earned first-team All-League honors this week and was tabbed the League’s Defensive Player of the Year.
For the second straight year the Patriot League boasts a winning non-conference record. The League is 29-25 against non-League foes in 2013, a year after going 33-24 in out-of-conference tilts. In addition, the seven League squads combined for five victories over nationally-ranked opponents this season, shy of last year’s mark of nine but more than the 2011 total of four.