This is the first edition of the fall sports rankings from The Brown and White sports section. This list is the sports editor’s rankings of the seven varsity Lehigh fall sports based on record, strength of schedule and recent results.
1. Volleyball (13-5, 4-0 Patriot)
After a disappointing season last fall, the Lehigh volleyball team has returned to its normal state of dominating its competition. Bob Bertucci, coaching his final year at Lehigh, has his team on pace for its first 20-win season since 2014. The Mountain Hawks have won eight straight games, including four straight Patriot League games with their last two victories coming over rivals Bucknell University and Lafayette College. Lehigh nearly upset Duke University on Sept. 9, taking the Blue Devils to a fifth set.
2. Men’s soccer (6-3, 1-1 Patriot)
Like the volleyball team, the Lehigh men’s soccer team is back and showing shades of the 2015 team, which made a run to the NCAA Tournament. Behind the offensive attack of senior Doyle Tuvesson, junior Mark Forrest and two-time Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week sophomore Will Smith, the Mountain Hawks have won six of their first nine games. Two of their wins have come against Big East opponents in Seton Hall University and St. John’s University. Lehigh has an upcoming matchup against the No. 10 team in the country, the University of Virginia, which will truly give us an evaluation of how good this team can be.
3. Women’s soccer (5-3-4, 1-1-2 Patriot)
The Lehigh women’s soccer team has only lost four of its first 12 games but only five of those games have resulted in wins. If the Mountain Hawks pick up another draw, they will tie the school record for most draws in a season. It’s hard to determine whether that’s a positive or negative, but it’s not a loss at the end of day. On the other hand, the Mountain Hawks are winless in their last four games with their last victory coming on Sept. 16 against Army. Despite that, Lehigh is still in position to host a Patriot League quarterfinal game and make a run at a Patriot League title and bid to the NCAA tournament.
4. Women’s cross country
The Lehigh women’s cross country team made history against Lafayette at its dual meet on Sept. 8. The Mountain Hawks achieved their program’s first-ever perfect score against their rival. Lehigh has won 13 straight duals against Lafayette. As of Oct. 1, the Mountain Hawks are ranked No. 8 in the Mid-Atlantic region by USTFCCCA, the second highest Patriot League team behind Bucknell. The Mountain Hawks started off their season with a third-place finish out of 10 teams in the Lehigh Invitational.
5. Men’s cross country
The Lehigh men’s cross country team is ranked No. 11 as of Oct. 1 by USTFCCCA and, like the women’s team, Lehigh is the second highest Patriot League team behind Bucknell. Behind the performance of senior Patrick Reilly, the men’s team has put together a solid season, including a second-place finish out of eight teams at the Lehigh Invitational and an eighth-place finish out of 18 teams in the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown at Boston College. Reilly broke the school record for the fastest time, 23:57, run by a Lehigh runner in the 8K at the Paul Short Run on Friday. It’s been the Patrick Reilly show for the Mountain Hawks, and they will hope he can anchor the team to a top-three finish at the Patriot League Championships on Oct. 28.
6. Field Hockey (2-9, 0-3 Patriot)
The Lehigh field hockey team hasn’t had a winning season since 1994, so a 2-9 start isn’t exactly a surprise. The Mountain Hawks started out 1-0 with a win against LIU Brooklyn before losing six straight games. Lehigh has seven games remaining, including three Patriot League games to turn its season around.
7. Football (0-5)
It has been a nightmare and a shocking start to the season for the Lehigh football team. After going 9-2 in the regular season last year with nine straight victories, the Mountain Hawks were expected to continue that trend into this season with most of their firepower returning. Although Patriot League play has yet to begin, it doesn’t look good for the defending conference champs.