In this March 9, 2017, file photo, senior goalie Chris Kiernan poses before practice on Banko Field. Kiernan was a walk-on his freshman year and is now the captain for his senior season. (Dallas Basha/B&W Staff)

From walk-on to captain: Chris Kiernan is important part of Lehigh men’s lacrosse

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From freshman walk-on to senior captain, Chris Kiernan is a crucial centerpiece to the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team.

Although the goaltender doesn’t collect many game-time minutes, he is described by his teammates and coaches as a well-respected player.

Junior attack Ryan Klose said Kiernan acts as a role model to the entire team.

“Chris (Kiernan) contributes to the team constantly,”  Klose said. “He is a constant positive voice during practice and one of the hardest workers.”

Kiernan came to Lehigh to pursue degrees in political science and business, but he also had an interest to try out for the men’s lacrosse team.

When Kiernan was a freshman, the Mountain Hawks were nationally ranked and had already solidified 12 spots for the incoming class. Three of these players were goal keepers.

Kiernan, amongst three other potential walk-ons, participated in a separate tryout where their strength, endurance and stick skills were tested by the coaching staff.

“I was definitely nervous to be on the field at the scrimmage and the tryout was definitely pretty nerve wrecking,” Kiernan said. “I just tried to think about it as being fun and something I wanted to do and something I had put so much time into so I just tried to do my best and I thought I performed pretty well.”

And he did.

Kiernan was called into coach Kevin Cassese’s office the following week and was told he earned a roster-spot.

“When I made the team, it was pretty incredible,” Kiernan said. “I was just so excited, it was a feeling I will never forget, for sure.”

Soon after earning his spot, Kiernan became the starting goaltender. Starting nine out of 10 games, Kiernan finished his freshman season with a .48 save percentage and a total of 96 saves.

During Kiernan’s sophomore campaign, he had 77 saves and 22 ground balls, finishing the season with a .51 save percentage.

In Kiernan’s junior year, he lost his starting spot to current sophomore and goaltender James Spence. Spence came to Lehigh as a two time All-American.

Although Kiernan contributes less time on the field, he still offers a significant presence on the team. He is known as a team player and thrives on the success of his teammates.

“He is always trying to help the team in any way he can in order for the team to have the most success,” Spence said. “He is the most selfless person on our team.”

Kiernan’s passion for the sport and selflessness on the team influenced both his coaches and teammates to name him one of the captains for the 2019 season.

“Being announced as a captain was a huge honor,” Kiernan said. “I’m definitely not one of the best players on the team so, to be recognized for other traits that are important to the team, like leadership and character and having good relationships with my teammates was definitely an honor.”

Kiernan’s hard work extends beyond his role on the team. He also sets a high standard in the classroom and has earned Patriot League Academic Honor Roll for the past three years.

“Chris plays a key role with the academics on our team.” Klose said. “He is someone our freshman, or anyone, can go to for advice on anything that comes up in school. He almost always has an answer.”

As Lehigh beings league play, Kiernan and the rest of the team hope to have a rewarding season by winning the Patriot League Tournament.

The Mountain Hawks are ranked No.15 after defeating three nationally ranked teams, Colgate (16), Army (17) and Rutgers (15).

The Mountain Hawks next game is on March 30 against Boston University at the Ulrich Sports Complex.

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