Freshman long stick midfielder Craig Chick prepares to pass the ball in a game against Cornell University on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Chick is currently first in the nation in caused turnovers. (Chris Barry/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s lacrosse season on the line in Patriot League Tournament against Army

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The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team closed out the regular season with a loss Friday night to Bucknell University. The team had already clinched a spot in the Patriot League Tournament, but a win could have given them home field advantage for the first game of the tournament.

The Mountain Hawks will now travel to play Army West Point on Tuesday. 

Lehigh (6-8, 4-4 Patriot) goes into the tournament seeded fifth out of six teams, while Army is seeded fourth. The top two seeds, Navy and Loyola University (Maryland), both receive first round byes and will be waiting to see who they will play. It is still undetermined who Lehigh would play if it were to beat Army.

The Hawks will be fighting to avenge a close loss earlier in the season to Army.

“We lost 13-10 last time around,” junior defenseman Jason Kozel said. “It was a really good game, which we could have won, so we will be looking forward to playing them again.”

Kozel was injured earlier in the year, which led to freshman Craig Chick stepping up and earning a bigger role for the defense. Chick leads the team with 54 ground balls this season and is first in the nation in caused turnovers with 36, nine more than anyone in the country.

“We’ve had a lot of guys contribute this year who we didn’t know we were going to need,” senior captain Reid Weber said. “But a guy who has really stepped up and done a lot for us between the lines is freshman Craig Chick.”

Weber, who plays attack, leads the team with 35 goals on the season. Kozel said Weber is the team’s best offensive player and provides a lot of energy. Junior midfielder Ian Strain agreed with Kozel, complimenting Weber’s impact this year.

“Weber has been crushing it, and we go as he goes,” junior midfielder Ian Strain said. “If he is on his game the offense is clicking as well.”

Another player who has stepped up this year is freshman attackman Tristan Rai. He quickly burst onto the scene by scoring a combined 13 goals in his first three career games. He now has 31 goals on the season, which is good enough for second on the team and top five nationally among freshman.

Despite Weber’s and Rai’s offensive performances, Lehigh has lost six of its last seven games.

“It’s been a pretty tough year so far, and we haven’t played well,” Kozel said. “I think all of the guys are pretty pumped that we have another opportunity to finally play the way we are capable of playing. Especially since we already played these guys once and lost in a game that we should have won.”

The Mountain Hawks will be playing the Black Knights in West Point, New York, Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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