Junior defender Olivia Kelly carries the ball toward the goal during Lehigh's game against Penn State University at Ulrich Sports Complex on Feb. 17. Lehigh will host Holy Cross in the Patriot League quarterfinals on May 1. (Benjamin Wang/B&W Staff)

Lehigh women’s lacrosse set to host Holy Cross in PL quarterfinals

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Game info: The No. 3 Lehigh women’s lacrosse team (12-5, 7-2 PL) will host No. 6 Holy Cross (6-11, 4-5 PL) at Ulrich Sports Complex on May 1 for the Patriot League quarterfinals. The game is set to tip off at 6 p.m.

Lehigh’s previous game: The Mountain Hawks extended their winning streak to six games with a 13-9 win at American University on April 28 to finish out their regular season. Sophomore midfielder Sondra Dickey led the team in scoring with four goals. Sophomore attacker Autumn Ryan had three goals of her own, and senior attacker Haley Wentzel and freshman attacker Julianne Puckette each added two. Junior attackers Kellie Gough and Jane Henderson contributed a goal apiece. The Mountain Hawks took 39 shots, 25 of which were on goal. Freshman goalkeeper Samantha Sagi had five saves on the day. With the win, the team secured a top-four seed for the third year in a row.

Last Lehigh vs. Holy Cross matchup: Lehigh took home a 15-11 victory over the Crusaders at Holy Cross on April 14. It was the third win in the Mountain Hawks’ six-game winning streak. Dickey led Lehigh in scoring with four goals. Wentzel and Puckette followed each with three goals of their own, and Gough added two. Junior defender Olivia Kelly, junior attacker Mary Ellen Carron and sophomore attacker Christine Balestra contributed a goal apiece. The team attempted 37 shots, 31 of which were on goal. Sagi had 13 saves on the day.

Inside the numbers: In the Patriot League, Lehigh sits third in both average goals per game and average points per game with 12 and 17.78, respectively. The team enters the tournament fourth in the league in assists per game, averaging 5.78. Dickey is ranked third in the league in average goals per game with three, fourth in average points per game with 4.78 and fifth in average assists per game with 1.78. Dickey also leads the team overall with 49 goals and 71 points.

Keys to the game:

1. What has led to the Mountain Hawks’ success so far this year?

Associate head coach Sammy Cermack said despite being plagued by injuries, the team has grown from the adversity it faced this season.

“The team’s resilience this year has been key with injuries,” Cermack said. “The obstacles have been there, but no one complained, which makes me super proud of how we finished off the season.”

2. How has Lehigh’s previous experience in the Patriot League Tournament impacted its mindset heading into this year’s playoffs?

In the past two seasons, the Mountain Hawks have fallen in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament.

Losing last year’s semifinal matchup to Navy and the previous season’s to Loyola, the team will get a chance at revenge against one of its league foes if it is victorious in the quarterfinals.

As a junior, Kelly has been a member of the team during its two consecutive semifinal losses.

“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve been out in the semis,” Kelly said. “It would be awesome
to get past that this year, and I know we are capable of that.”

Senior defender Kierstyn Voiro said the Mountain Hawks are happy with their third-place finish for the second year in a row.

“I think as a team we are really excited about being third overall,” Voiro said. “The preseason poll had us where we were placed.”

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

Junior attacker Keely Connors is Holy Cross’ dominant player with 35 goals and 37 points this season.

“Keely Connors is a great player,” Cermack said. “And (the Crusaders) also play a lot of zone defense really well, so we have to try to move the ball well.”

Adapting to those two elements will be key to a Lehigh victory on Tuesday night to fuel the Mountain Hawks through the remainder of the tournament.

“We were happy to get a home quarterfinal game,” Voiro said. “But, we know we can make it far in the tournament and want to win it all.”

Implications of the game: With a victory May 1, the Mountain Hawks will advance to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals 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 back-to-back games against Navy and Loyola in the regular season.

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