Lehigh senior Conor Gaffney’s willingness to compete both in the classroom and on the field transcends his drive to succeed in all aspects of being a student-athlete.
Recently named an Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American honorable mention, the versatile midfielder and forward’s athletic aspirations have been realized since committing to Lehigh in 2013.
Gaffney was recognized as the Patriot League Scholar Athlete of the Year for the second straight year with a cumulative GPA of 3.94.
“I don’t play to get an award,” Gaffney said. “However, I appreciate the recognition in the classroom.”
Gaffney said he brings the same intensity on the field into the classroom, competing with his own grades with the intention of completing the Integrated Business and Engineering program in just four years.
Fellow teammate and sophomore attacker Tommy Schelling described Gaffney as an “absolute workhorse,” who operates like a machine in both academics and athletics.
Also a mechanical engineer, Schelling said Gaffney has helped to guide him in and give advice on how to manage time between lacrosse and school work.
“He has honed in on his craft and has done the little things to succeed,” Schelling said.
Over the past four years, Gaffney has learned the value of putting in the effort to maintain a solid work ethic.
Associate head coach Will Scudder said Gaffney’s strongest attribute is his diligence. Scudder said Gaffney is constantly ready for his opponents by scouting and preparing to face them weeks in advance.
Gaffney’s dedication doesn’t stop there.
Scudder said when Gaffney graduates, he is a prime candidate to play in the Premier Lacrosse League or Major League Lacrosse, the two major professional lacrosse leagues in the United States.
However, Gaffney’s focus remains on the immediate future. The Mountain Hawks have fallen short in the Patriot League Championship game the past two years, and he is looking forward to redemption this season.
“This team can take the next step,” Gaffney said. “We need to take care of our own business.”
Gaffney, a faceoff specialist and “fogo,” also known as a “face off, get off” player, set a Lehigh program and Patriot League record for faceoffs won, going 249 of 357.
Faceoffs take place after a goal is scored and at the beginning of each quarter in the game. Gaffney describes a faceoff as a wrestling match for the ball that requires speed, power and technique.
Although winning is his main ambition, Gaffney says he strives to gain at least one more possession over the other team each game.
Last season, Gaffney was named Patriot League Face Off Specialist of the Year, ranking 4th nationally with a 69.7 success rate, winning more than half of the faceoffs against opponents in 15 out of 17 games last season.
Scudder, who described lacrosse as a game of momentum, said Gaffney’s high faceoff winning percentage helps the team control possession of the game and gives his teammates more opportunities to score.
Scudder’s connection with Gaffney dates back to his sophomore year in high school. Having recruited Gaffney in 2013, Scudder’s belief in Gaffney’s potential has well been exceeded over the course of his four years at Lehigh.
“We learn together,” Scudder said. “I’m here to guide and teach him, and I love that we can do it together.”
With his final season just getting started, Gaffney will look to use both his intellectual and physical strength to lead the Mountain Hawks to a Patriot League Championship.
The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team defeated Utah 16-11 in its first game of the season and faces Virginia away from home on Feb. 15.