Men’s lacrosse is no longer focused on winning a Patriot League Championship. The focus is set on competing for a national championship.
Last year, the team was the regular season Patriot League champion, finishing 8-0 in the regular season, before going on to the Patriot League Tournament finals. After defeating Army, Loyola was unable to play in the finals due to a COVID-19 outbreak, so Lehigh advanced to their third NCAA Tournament in program history.
“I think it’s something that we’re trying to create as a culture here on the lacrosse team,” junior Christian Mule said. “That’s the standard and to get back there every year. We want to compete for a national championship, not just the Patriot League championship.”
Senior Matt Marker said despite a first round loss to Rutgers, the experience of playing on that stage will be beneficial to the team as the season progresses, Senior Matt Marker said.
Mule believes the team’s success may be a “double-edged sword,” as it will put a target on its back. He said the coaches have done a great job emphasizing that the team is going to have to work harder than last year, if it wants to get back to the national stage.
Marker said improvement has been the team’s primary focus for the fall season.
“We were there last year on the big stage,” Marker said. “We want to go further and past that stage. The coaches have put an emphasis on getting better every day and improving on all facets of the game. Hopefully, going into winter and this spring we’ll be able to capitalize on that.”
Men’s lacrosse played four scrimmage matches this fall against the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, Drexel University and Towson University. Each year men’s lacrosse plays a series of fall games in an effort to prepare the team for its spring season.
The team does not shy away from high-level competition, as Virginia has won the past two national championships.
Marker said the first weekend of scrimmage matches was a wake-up call.
“Virginia has won the past two national championships, so it was kind of a good test for us to find out where we stand,” Maker said.“We found out what we needed to work on and areas that we definitely need to focus on going forward.”
Marker said the team was able to make adjustments based on the first round of scrimmage matches.
Mule said the team began practicing in late August with “special skill sessions”. During the sessions players worked with their individual coaches to improve technical skills.
Senior Tommy Schelling said as an offensive player he was working with Coach Crawley.
“We dive in a lot more into stick work, shooting form, and the little individual things that are important for each player,” Schelling said.
After that, the team continued having 20-hour practice weeks.
Lacrosse has two-hour practices and a lift on Monday and a two-hour practice on Tuesday with no lift, Schelling said. On Wednesdays, seniors get everyone to do some extra fieldwork in what they called “open turf.” On Thursday and Friday, they have two hour practices and a lift both days. The team usually watches film before practice every day as well.
“Now we understand that we’re good enough to really compete with the best,” Schelling said.