Members of the Lehigh athletics community support one another and celebrate the traditions of competing against Lafayette and supporting the football team. (Sam Henry/B&W Staff)

Beyond the gridiron: what The Rivalry means to Lehigh sports


Lehigh and Lafayette’s rivalry extends beyond the football field and into other athletic programs as well, expanding traditions and bringing the athletic community together.

As both schools are members of the Patriot League conference, they meet in each of their respective sports at least once every athletic season. While the football game and Le-Laf traditions take most of the spotlight, Lehigh’s other sports teams have their own history with their matchups against Lafayette, too. 

Senior men’s basketball team captain Reed Fenton said The Rivalry basketball game means more than other games for the team, though the team plays Lafayette twice each year instead of once. The teams play once at Lehigh and once at Lafayette in a given year.

“Every year, we are trying to either beat them both times, or if we lose the first time, we have extra motivation to beat them the second time,” Fenton said. “We’ve split with them every time that I have been here, so we’re hoping this year to definitely beat them both times.”

Last year, the Lehigh men’s basketball team made it to the Patriot League semifinals, where they lost to eventual conference champion Colgate. Because of this, Fenton said their dedication to win this season is the highest it has been in a while, especially against their rival.

“We definitely see a boost in attendance whenever Lafayette comes to Stabler (Arena), especially if it’s during the school year and students are back on campus,” Fenton said. “We had a good student section last year, the crowd was awesome every game, but definitely for the Lafayette game, we saw a lot more fans than we usually do.”

Since 2002, Lehigh is 27-19 in its men’s basketball matchups against Lafayette. 

Ryelle Shuey, a senior midfielder on the women’s soccer team, said the team does not have a specific tradition for games against Lafayette anymore. However, during Le-Laf week her freshman year, each class would present candles to the class below them in a ceremonial tradition. 

Like other sports, Shuey said her team prioritizes winning the Le-Laf matchup more than they do most other games of the season. 

Lehigh women’s soccer defeated Lafayette in their matchup earlier this year 2-0 on Sept. 22 at Lehigh. Since 2003, Lehigh has won 15 of its 20 matchups against Lafayette. 

“It is something that we do hold over them because it is the longest rivalry in NCAA sports, so I think winning that rivalry is very important to us and we do take it very seriously,” Shuey said. 

Although the Le-Laf football game is played in the fall, The Rivalry still extends into the spring sports, including baseball.

“We definitely get up a little more for the games against Lafayette,” junior infielder Tyler Young said. “It definitely matters a little more to beat your rival. There is definitely a different kind of energy when we play Lafayette.”

The Lehigh and Lafayette baseball teams meet on the diamond five times a year, four of which occur in one weekend. Since 2004, Lehigh is 45-34 in Le-Laf games.

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