The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team finished last season 10-2, going undefeated in Patriot League play and earning the eighth seed in the NCAA tournament.
Although they lost to Rutgers in the first round of the tournament, the team finished their regular season as the Patriot League champion by default after Loyola could not play in the championship game due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
This year, Lehigh wants to win the Patriot League to prove themselves, sophomore Scott Cole said.
Cole said the outcome of last year’s game against Loyola makes him excited and eager to win the conference title this year for the seniors and graduate students on the team.
“Many people think we would have lost in the Patriot League championship and we have already fallen behind Loyola and Army in the rankings,” Cole said. “I am really excited for the opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong this year. If we put in the time and uncap our potential, then I think that we are going to have a ton of success.”
Cole said the Patriot League is competitive, therefore the team must take the season week by week instead of looking ahead.
This season, the Mountain Hawks are ranked 22nd in the NCAA’s RPI rankings, behind ninth-ranked Army, 10th-ranked Loyola Maryland and Navy in the 20th spot.
Senior captains Tommy Schelling and Matt Marker said the Loyola and Army games are crucial this season. In order to host the Patriot League tournament, the Mountain Hawks must win both games.
Schelling is looking forward to competing with the senior class one last time. As a captain, he said he is eager to grow into a leadership role.
“I think leadership has a huge role in the success of our team and I need to do my part to make sure this team is ready to win this year,” Schelling said.
Outside of the Patriot League, the Mountain Hawks are scheduled to play NJIT, Hobart (#31), Cornell and seventh-ranked Georgetown.
Cole said beating Georgetown and Cornell would send the message to the rest of the NCAA that Lehigh can play with anyone.
Lehigh’s games against Bucknell on April 10 and the season closer against Loyola on April 29 will both be broadcast to a national audience on CBS Sports Network.
The team spent the fall preparing for the spring season, playing scrimmages against ranked competition, including the University of Virginia, Richmond, Towson and Drexel.
The preseason gave the team an understanding of what is needed from them to compete for a championship. Specifically, Marker said the fall preseason taught the team that their success would have to be earned this season.
“We are coming off a great season, but that means very little towards our success this season,” Marker said.
Coach Kevin Cassese is focused on working hard every day, coaching the students to be great leaders and teammates. He said he is looking forward to the next practice and the next opportunity to get better.
“I think the fall showed us that if we play well, we can play with the very best in the country, and if we play poorly, we can lose to anyone,” Cassese said. “We need to be firing on all cylinders to put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Mountain Hawks will square off against NJIT in Newark, New Jersey, for their season opener on Saturday.