Freshman midfielder Liam Lynch and senior defender JJ Foley defend Lehigh's goal at the team's game against Holy Cross at Banko Field on Feb. 24. Lehigh will host Colgate University in the Patriot League quarterfinals on Tuesday. (Adele Hancock/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s lacrosse set to host Colgate in Patriot League quarterfinals

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Game info: The No. 4 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team (8-6, 5-3 PL) will host No. 5 Colgate University (7-6, 3-5 PL) at Ulrich Sports Complex Tuesday night for the Patriot League quarterfinals. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m.

Lehigh’s previous game: The Mountain Hawks extended their losing streak to three games with a 14-7 loss at Bucknell University on Friday night to conclude their regular season. Junior attackman and midfielder Lucas Spence and senior attackman and midfielder Nolan Apers led the team in scoring with two goals apiece. Junior attackman and midfielder Andrew Pettit, fifth year midfielder Ian Strain and sophomore attackman Ryan Klose each contributed a goal of their own. The Mountain Hawks took 25 shots, 16 of which were on goal. Lehigh had six saves on the night. Even with the loss, the team maintained its fourth seed in the league and heads into the tournament as a top-four team for the first time since 2014.

Last Lehigh vs. Colgate matchup: Lehigh took home a 10-7 victory over the Raiders at Ulrich Sports Complex on March 3. It was the second of three consecutive wins in the Mountain Hawks’ longest winning streak this season. Senior attackman and midfielder John Mehok led the team with four goals. Pettit, junior attackman Tristan Rai and junior attackman and midfielder Mickey Fitzpatrick added two goals each. The Mountain Hawks attempted 19 shots, 13 of which were on goal. Freshman goalkeeper James Spence had three saves on the night.

Inside the numbers: In the Patriot League, Lehigh sits first in faceoff percentage with 59.4 and second in assists per game with an average of seven. The team enters the game third in the league in caused turnovers per game with an average of 8.38 and fourth in goals per game with an average of 10.50. Pettit is ranked fifth in the league in points per game with a 3.63 average and eighth in average goals per game with 2.25. Spence is eighth in average assists per game with 1.50. Pettit leads the team overall with 53 points and 34 goals. Spence and Rai are tied as the team leaders in assists with 20 each.

Keys to the game:

1. What advantages does Lehigh have entering the quarterfinals?

The Mountain Hawks have two key advantages over their Patriot League opponent Colgate. As the No. 4 seed in the league, Lehigh will have a home-field advantage Tuesday night against a team it beat just four games earlier.

“We were victorious in the regular season against (the Raiders), but we cannot take them lightly,” junior defender Eddie Bouhall said. “Being able to play at home is very beneficial and will help the guys prepare for the game. We are not ready for the season to be over and are willing to do anything to keep the season alive.”

2. What kind of mentality must the Mountain Hawks have to advance within the tournament?

Pettit said the Mountain Hawks’ team-first mindset must prevail if they want a shot at the league title.

“Any game at this point could be our last game,” Pettit said. “We’re kind of all laying it out on the line. We’re realizing that we could really only have a week left together unless we keep winning. That’s just kind of the message right now is to play for each other and to play as hard as we can. So, we hope to just go as far as we can and who knows, maybe win the whole thing.”

3. What is the key to winning Tuesday’s quarterfinal game?

Sophomore midfielder Austin Clibanoff said the players need to trust each other and not get too far ahead of themselves or else they could risk losing their focus and seeing their season get cut short.

“Our goal is to always compete for and win the Patriot League Championship,” Clibanoff said. “We can only achieve our goal by taking it one day at a time and going game-by-game, not getting too far ahead of ourselves because it’s win or go home at this point.”

Bouhall said Lehigh needs to go into each game trusting the schemes and playing for each other, especially the seniors.

“We have a great group of guys that have spectacular chemistry, and we do not want this season to end early in the tournament,” Bouhall said.

Coach Kevin Cassese said instead of focusing on future contests, the Mountain Hawks need to focus on themselves and their game.

“All of our focus is on fundamentals and basic schemes,” Cassese said. “We have to put more focus on ourselves than anything else right now.”

Implications of the game: With a victory Tuesday, the Mountain Hawks will advance to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals at Loyola on Friday. They will play either the top seed Loyola or the second seed Navy. The lowest-seeded team to advance from the quarterfinals will play Loyola in the semifinals. Lehigh lost to both Navy and Loyola just one game apart in the regular season.

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