The Lehigh men's lacrosse team fights for the ball against the Hofstra Pride during a game on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at Ulrich Sports Complex. The Mountain Hawks have made it to nine straight Patriot League tournaments, losing 11-7 to No. 19 Army West Point in the 2019 championship game. (Isabel Standbridge/ B&W Staff)

Men’s lacrosse hungry for more success in upcoming season

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The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team ended its fall season with a 14-10 win against No. 10 Syracuse.

Senior midfielder Andrew Eichelberger said Lehigh’s victory over the Orangemen instilled greater confidence in the Mountain Hawks.

“I think it’s going to be really good for us,” Eichelberger said.  “The energy and the excitement of the season is going to push us moving forward.” 

Eichelberger said the Syracuse game was a great opportunity for the new recruits to experience playing at the Division I level, especially because they were competing against a high-caliber program. 

However, Lehigh’s win against Syracuse wasn’t the team’s first achievement of the fall season, as the Mountain Hawks went undefeated in every fall matchup. 

Coach Kevin Cassese said in an email the fall season went well, partially because the team approached it differently than in years past, by “starting with three weeks of skill and athletic development before diving into a full team practice.” 

Despite its success, the Mountain Hawks refuse to get complacent. Junior long-stick midfielder Teddy Leggett said while the team is excited about its achievements this fall, the team has shifted its focus to the spring season and the opportunity to win a Patriot League Championship.

“Everyday we have to stick to the process and keep doing what got us there, and got us that win,” Leggett said. “We have to stay even-keeled and not get too excited over that, because it’s just a fall scrimmage. It’s not where we want to be at the end of the year.” 

He added the real benefit of the fall season is the opportunity to pinpoint areas that need improvement. Making sure every player is on the same page with plays and technical skills will contribute to the team’s ability to work well with each other, he said. 

Lehigh’s lacrosse program has made it to nine straight Patriot League tournaments, losing 15-8 to #6/8 Loyola in the 2018 championship game. For Cassese, competing for championships is no achievement, but an expectation. 

“As far as results are concerned, the minimum expectations for our program on an annual basis are to compete for championships,” Cassese said in an email. “Patriot League Championships and National Championships.” 

Cassese stressed the importance of taking care of business off the field, so that the Mountain Hawks can be in good standing heading into the spring semester. 

With new freshmen coming in every year, it can take some time for the team to work together and adjust to different playing styles. But, Eichelberger said they have adjusted well, both offensively and defensively.

“When we talk about our team, it’s always a family, everyone is your best friend,” Eichelberger said.  “I think that makes it really easy for freshmen to come in and mesh well with the team.” 

Cassese said in an email the freshman class has acclimated well.

“They have talent, but are also great kids,” Cassese said. “They have meshed well with the team, and the upperclassmen have done a nice job taking them under their wings.”

The team recognizes the long road it takes to reach a championship, but after losing last year, the players are more motivated than ever, Eichelberger said. 

“Losing a Patriot League Championship really puts it in perspective for a lot of guys,” Eichelberger said. “Especially the younger guys. Seeing the seniors leave and new ones come up, we always look back to it and how much it sucks losing. That’s what really drives us.” 

The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team is scheduled to open its regular season in February, and it will begin the conquest for a championship title.

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