After falling short in back-to-back Patriot League Championship games, the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team looks to advance further when it opens its season on Feb. 8 against Utah.
The team had a strong fall season, remaining unbeaten against the likes of Hofstra, Marist and powerhouse Syracuse.
One way the Mountain Hawks looked to stay energized during fall season was by decreasing the number of practices from six days a week to five.
The extra day of rest was a positive change and helped the team remain individually focused, said senior midfielder Andrew Eichelberger.
“Decreasing practices from six to five helped us stay fresh,” Eichelberger said. “We still had guys getting in extra work, whether it was Saturday or Sunday. It gave us a little more freedom to kind of pick what you individually needed to do, whether that was getting in the trainer’s room or playing wall ball.”
There are a handful of fresh faces on staff, and the team hopes the additions, including the new presence of assistant coach John Crawley, will bring an edge this coming season.
Now, the Mountain Hawks look to transition that success from fall play into Patriot League competition.
After 15 players graduated last year, senior attacker Ryan Klose said he thinks this season’s key for success in Patriot League play revolves around chemistry and the idea of a unified team.
Klose said Crawley wants the offense to focus on teamwork.
“All we’re doing is team,” Klose said. “Share the ball, share the ball, share the ball.”
Replacing the leadership of the previous senior class is another point of emphasis going into the regular season.
Andrew Pettit is a fifth-year senior attacker who has seen half a decade of Lehigh lacrosse, but said he is unfazed by this season’s transition of leadership.
“Talent-wise we may have lost a lot of pieces that are irreplaceable, but the leadership is still there,” Pettit said. “I have personally never seen a class with as much leadership as this senior class.”
The team hopes to do more than merely return to the championship game this year — it hopes to win it. To do that, however, the players will need to embrace their previous experiences, Klose said.
With the team’s history of playing deep into the postseason, many of the players have become used to the grueling schedule of the Patriot League Tournament. All of the upperclassmen have multiple championship game appearances under their belts, while the sophomores got their first taste last year.
“There are certainly classes that have felt the pain of losing one championship,” Klose said. “The juniors and seniors know the pain of losing two championships. That pain has driven us every single year and will continue to drive us. We don’t want to feel that feeling again.”
The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team opens its spring schedule against Utah on Feb. 8 at Ulrich Sports Complex.