The Lehigh men’s lacrosse team is heading into the spring 2023 season with an experienced roster, featuring 26 upperclassmen.
The team’s returning players include three of their top five leading scorers and some defensive starters. On top of their 11 seniors and 12 juniors, attackman Matt Marker, long-stick midfielder Judah Hicks and faceoff specialist Mike Sisselberger are back for a fifth year.
Sisselberger, who was named by Inside Lacrosse as both a third team All-American and a potential first round pick in the Premier Lacrosse League draft, said he is grateful to continue playing at Lehigh, especially because he feels his college experience was cut short due to COVID-19.
“Being able to get that year back and have the whole college experience that way, both athletically and academically (is great),” Sisselberger said. “This great group of guys we have is a special group, so it was a no-brainer.”
Last season, the team finished with an 8-7 record. They had trouble finishing out close games and took all three of their losses in Patriot League play by one goal.
In the playoffs, Lehigh fought a hard-contested matchup with Boston University that ended up going into overtime with a spot in the championship game on the line. Once again, Lehigh fell short to a conference rival in a one goal game.
This year, Lehigh is expected to finish fifth in the preseason poll and did not receive a single first-place vote.
Looking to make up for their loss in last year’s semi-final, Marker and Sisselberger said their ultimate goal is the 2023 Patriot League title.
“(We are) trying to get some revenge from last season,” Marker said. “We did not do as well as we would have liked to, so it is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get one last stab at it.”
With so many upperclassmen on the team, Sisselberger said they are stepping up as leaders and key contributors as they attempt to defy expectations.
“The biggest thing, for me, is having the cast around me with this senior group,” Sisselberger said. “We have a lot of young guys who have turned into leaders.”
Team captain and senior attackman John Sidorski will be a crucial part of Lehigh’s offense while also contributing to the team’s veteran presence.
Sidorski received an overwhelming vote from his teammates and coaches for captain, despite missing the prior year due to injury. Even with this role, Sidorski said he sees everyone on the team as a leader in their own right.
“In terms of leadership, we have the whole senior class who are leaders,” Sidorski said. “I’m not the only leader on the team. Everyone feels like they have a say in the team.”
In addition to their off-the-field influence, experienced players will have a large on-the-field impact. Sisselberger said he looks to capitalize on his preseason all-American status, and Marker said he looks to build on finishing sixth on the team in points.
Senior Christian Mule, who led the Mountain Hawks in goals last season, is returning to the lineup.
Mule said he is working on becoming a better off-ball player and passer, hoping to record more assists this season.
On defense, the Mountain Hawks had the lowest goals against average in the Patriot League with 9.19 per game. This defense allowed for them to stay in close games, including one where they defeated Army 11-10 on the road on March 19.
Marker said the team highly values improvement. Despite being at the tail end of his collegiate career, Marker said he has a desire to keep working on all aspects of the sport, something that is shared by the other seniors and fifth-years.
“It’s an ever-lasting learning curve,” Marker said. “There are always things you can improve on and mistakes that are made. Just take it day-by-day and reflect on what adjustments need to be made.”
Lehigh men’s lacrosse begins their season at home against Fairfield on Feb. 11.