Lehigh Mountain Hawks junior midfield Conor Gaffney poses on Friday, March 29, 2019, outside of Zoellner Arts Center. Gaffney, a faceoff specialist, broke the team record last season for faceoff wins, with 214. (Jane Henderson/B&W Staff)

Connor Gaffney gives lacrosse a boost

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In his junior season, faceoff specialist Conor Gaffney secured his spot as one of the team’s top contributors by attaining possession for both his ground ball skills and aggression on the field.

Gaffney leads the team with 86 ground balls and is first in the Patriot League with a faceoff win 64 percent (138-64). Last season, Gaffney broke the school record with 214 faceoff wins.

“Lacrosse really is a game of possession,” Gaffney said. “The more I can get the ball for our offense, the more opportunities they have to score, and the less chances the other team gets.”

These opportunities have paid off for the Mountain Hawks this season. They have scored 109 goals while their opponents have scored 86.

Gaffney attributes his personal success not only to the time and effort he has put in on and off the field, but also to the help he receives from his coaches and teammates.

“A lot of the team’s possession successes has to do with the guys on the wings,” Gaffney said. “I know I have guys like Teddy (Leggett) who are there to support me (on the faceoff), which makes it a lot easier.”

Sophomore Leggett has the second-highest ground ball statistic on the Mountain Hawks with 39.

Leggett said the significant difference possession makes on a game, and praised Gaffney for allowing the offense to succeed. He also noted Gaffney’s work off the field, and how it contributes to his exponential on-field growth.

“(Gaffney’s) really given us an advantage,” Leggett said. “I see a ton of upward progression for him. He’s only a junior and has a whole year to contribute more and more.”

Associate head coach Will Scudder has contributed to a large part of Gaffney’s growth, Gaffney said. Scudder, ’11, was a faceoff specialist during his time as a Mountain Hawk, and he now works closely with Gaffney.

Gaffney said working with Scudder has really helped him develop, especially in competitiveness.

“(Gaffney’s) success comes from his work ethic,” Scudder said. “Whether its extra faceoff reps, time in the weight room, or in the classroom, he’s always focused on getting better.”

Looking beyond his time at Lehigh, Gaffney wants to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, but  he is also considering playing professional lacrosse if the opportunity arises.

“I study mechanical engineering (at Lehigh), so I definitely want to do something in that field,” Gaffney said. “In terms of lacrosse, if I get drafted to the MLL (Major League Lacrosse) or the PLL (Premier Lacrosse League) that would be really awesome.”

Leggett also spoke about Gaffney’s future after Lehigh.

“(Gaffney’s) a really smart guy,” Leggett said. “Between lacrosse and engineering I can see him doing a lot.”

Scudder noted that Gaffney’s character will ultimately be the reason he succeeds after Lehigh.

“There’s gonna be success in whatever (Gaffney) does,” Scudder said. “That all comes from his foundation as a person. He’s a really intelligent guy, and you can see that in how well he is as a student of the game.”

The Mountain Hawks have their next game Saturday versus No. 2 Loyola. Gaffney will go up against the Greyhounds’ Bailey Savio, who has a 49.2  faceoff win percentage.

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