Junior faceoff specialist Mike Sisselberger runs to the goal after a faceoff. Sisselberger is leading the country in faceoff percentage, going 77 percent from the stripe. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Mike Sisselberger, hometown hero

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Lehigh men’s lacrosse is off to a perfect 6-0 start. Part of their success is due to junior faceoff specialist Mike Sisselberger.

When fifth-year faceoff star Conor Gaffney sat out of the first game due to COVID-19 protocols, Sisselberger stepped up and showed the lacrosse world why he was the No. 1 faceoff recruit in the class of 2018. He dominated in the team’s home opener against NJIT, winning 16-of-22 faceoffs with 10 ground balls. 

Sisselberger did not lose any momentum following his first game. He came out strong in Lehigh’s following five defeats against Loyola, Bucknell and Colgate, Army and Navy, going 16-19,16-23, 19-25 and 23-27 from the stripe. He also scored a goal in each of the first three games. 

Head coach Kevin Cassese said it has been exciting to watch Sisselberger get back out on the field this season and perform at the level he has been. 

“It’s great to see Mike (Sisselberger) fully realizing the extent of his potential in a Division I landscape, and it will be fun to watch him continue to grow throughout the remainder of the season,” Cassese said.

Sisselberger was named Patriot League Faceoff Specialist of the Week and Under Armour All America Player of the Week, coming off Lehigh’s first win against Loyola in program history. He also leads the county in faceoff percentage, going 77 percent from the stripe. 

He recently earned the honor of being named to the initial Tewaaraton Award Watch List, which is given to the best college lacrosse player in the NCAA, alongside teammate Tommy Schelling.

“It’s truly been a luxury playing as an attackman on Lehigh lacrosse with Mike (Sisselberger) out there dominating every matchup,” Schelling said. “We know we can count on him and it ensures that we are always ready when he wins a possession.”

Sisselberger said he is just grateful to be back playing alongside his teammates and has faith in the team accomplishing great things this season. 

He said they have had to be flexible with COVID-19 restrictions and how they practice together, so seeing everyone’s hard work come together throughout the first four games has been gratifying. 

Sisselberger, Cassese and Schelling all said Gaffney should be credited with consistently pushing Sisselberger to be his best and that the two elevate one another’s play every single practice. 

“Mike Sisselberger and Conor Gaffney are two of the hardest working guys on our team, hands down,” Schelling said. “I think they hold each other to a high standard in terms of work ethic, and it has definitely proven successful.”

Cassese said Sisselberger is a great presence on the team. 

“He brings an excellent attitude, tremendous work ethic and is overall a pleasure to coach,” he said.

Sisselberger grew up in Center Valley and said that it has been meaningful to play for a school so close to home.

“It has always been my dream to play for Lehigh and feel like I am at home,” Sisselberger said. “It’s such a great feeling to have a town behind you in support of you, and I would say that has been a major part of my success.” 

As far as setting goals for the remainder of this season, Sisselberger said a Patriot League Championship would be remarkable, but a National Championship would be even better.

Cassese said he is thrilled with the intensity and professionalism that Sisselberger has brought this season and that it will be rewarding to see where that takes him alongside the competitive spirits of his entire team.

Sisselberger will look to continue his success when the team takes on Lafayette on April 16. 

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