The Lehigh men’s lacrosse players refer to each other as brothers. For junior attackman and midfielder Lucas Spence and freshman goalkeeper James Spence, the term “brother” is more than just a symbol of how close they are as teammates.
Though Lucas said he attributes his independence as a lacrosse player and as a college student to the two years he spent as a Mountain Hawk prior to James’ arrival at Lehigh, he is happy to be teammates with his younger brother once again.
“We spend so much time together in practice, lifts, film, games or travel,” Lucas said. “Whoever you’re playing with, you’re bound to get closer.”
While the Spence brothers both said playing lacrosse together at Lehigh has strengthened their relationship, they hinted at their rivalry and competitiveness as brothers as well.
Practices often involve Lucas — a dominant force on Lehigh’s offensive front with 23 goals so far this season — and James — the Mountain Hawks’ starting goalkeeper with 95 saves on the year — going head-to-head.
When game day comes around, however, the brothers team up and work toward a larger team goal.
“Our parents, when we go out on the field, tell me to score more than (James) lets in,” Lucas said.
The Spence brothers completed their parents’ goal in the Mountain Hawks’ Patriot League matchup against Holy Cross on Feb. 24. Lucas scored six goals for the team, his season high, while James only let in two, his season low. The brothers’ combined efforts helped lead Lehigh to a 15-4 win over its league foe.
For James, his growth as a player and as a member of Lehigh lacrosse came from watching and learning from his older brother.
“I’ve been watching (Lucas) play for the past two years,” James said. “I kind of had an edge on all of the other freshmen, knowing a lot of the guys from Lucas, and I knew what the team was like coming in.”
Freshman defender Matt Douglas said growing up and playing lacrosse together was the foundation of both of his teammates’ chemistry and competitiveness.
“When we have our first offense versus our first defense (in practice), there’s definitely an aspect of competitiveness between them,” Douglas said. “You can see that they’re so used to playing together because James always knows where Lucas is shooting, or Lucas knows where the spots are that’ll beat James.”
Although Lucas is in his second to last season as a Mountain Hawk, the Spence legacy at Lehigh won’t be over any time soon. Jack Spence, a junior in high school, committed to play lacrosse at Lehigh and follow in the footsteps of his two older brothers. Though Lucas and Jack won’t get the chance to be teammates, James will have the opportunity to mentor his younger brother just as Lucas mentored him.
“It’s a lot of fun playing with (Jack),” James said. “I’m a mentor to him, so what Lucas does for me, I can do for him.”
Although Lucas will never get to play on the same team as his youngest brother, he said he’s excited to see what he accomplishes at the collegiate level.
“Whatever I do, (Jack) can try and one-up it or continue my legacy,” Lucas said. “In high school, he wore the same number I wore when I graduated. It’s cool to keep living through him.”
With wins earlier in the season against ranked opponents Hofstra University and Army West Point, No. 17 Lehigh men’s lacrosse is ranked for the first time since the 2015 season.
For Lucas, the Mountain Hawks’ success is affirmation that his class worked hard to lead the Lehigh men’s lacrosse program to where it is today. For James, it’s a realization that his class has already brought so much young talent to the table.
For both brothers, finding national success as a team means that much more while playing alongside each other.
“It’s awesome seeing the team I’ve watched and how far they’ve come and how I can help,” James said.