Senior attacker Allison Labeau of the Lehigh Mountian Hawks plays strong defense on Loyola Greyhounds sophmore midfielder Lindsey Ehrhardt on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2017 at Ulrich Sports Complex. The Lehigh women's lacrosse team is set to play Bucknell at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2017, in Lewisburg, PA.(William Bickel/B&W Staff)

Home-field advantage up for grabs in women’s lacrosse season finale


The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team looks to rely on senior leadership to secure home-field advantage in the Patriot League Tournament in its upcoming matchup April 28 at Bucknell University.

This year’s seniors have seen steady growth in the team’s performance, increasing their season win totals every year. They have made the playoffs the past three years, but this year they look to break out of the semifinals and secure a Patriot League Championship.

“Our seniors have brought this program from the ground up,” sophomore Courtney Henig said. “When I committed my sophomore year, we were ranked really low in Division I and we’re top 30 right now. So I think they have done so much for this program and to win a Patriot League title with them would be amazing. They have so much leadership in our team, so doing it for them is something that should really motivate us because they deserve to have a Patriot League title under their belt.”

The Mountain Hawks (10-5) are in a three-way tie for third place with Lafayette College and Boston University, but they hold the tiebreaker, having beaten both of those teams in conference play this year.

If they win this Friday, the Mountain Hawks would host Bucknell again in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League postseason. They can still secure home-field advantage with a loss if Lafayette and Boston both lose their conference matchups this week.

However, if neither of those scenarios plays out, Lehigh would have to travel and win three away games in five days to secure a Patriot League title.

“Last year was the first year in a while we did get that home game,” senior Julianne D’Orazio said. “It’s always nicer to play at home and on your home turf and not have to get on that bus to travel for an away game, so I think just winning on Friday and clinching that home-field advantage would definitely be huge to start playoffs out on the right foot.”

Coach Jill Redfern said the Mountain Hawks will have to clean up their execution on both the defensive and attacking ends after a dismal performance against Colgate University last Saturday.

The team has lost two out of its last three games but is looking to repeat the play it had in its most recent win against Lafayette, beating the Leopards 20-11 on their home turf April 19.

“I always believe in the defensive end,” Redfern said. “I think our mentality as a team revolves around playing good defense all over the field — that includes the attackers. We take pride in our defense and limiting the number of points we let the opponent put up so that it takes pressure off our offense and how many they need to put in the back of the cage.”

The Mountain Hawks will look to three of their top scorers to provide offense for them at this key point in the season. D’Orazio, junior Haley Wentzel and senior Allison LaBeau all have over 30 goals on the season.

Defensively, with the help of senior goalkeeper Taylor Tvedt, the team ranks fourth in the Patriot League in saves per game and second in the league in save percentage.

Last year, Loyola knocked the Mountain Hawks out of the playoffs in the Patriot League semifinals en route to a championship.

Lehigh will look to host its second straight Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game and third since 2010.

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