BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The #16/18 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team opens the 2015 season on Saturday when the Mountain Hawks host Marquette at 12 p.m. This marks the second straight season featuring Marquette as Lehigh’s home-opening opponent. The Mountain Hawks are coming off a 2014 season which saw them advance to their third straight Patriot League Championship Game while the Golden Eagles enjoyed a strong 4-2 Big East record to earn the #2 seed in their conference tournament.
Lehigh is led by a pair of senior All-Americans at attack (Dan Taylor) and in goal (Matt Poillon). Taylor emerged as one of the nation’s leading attackmen last season, finishing with 76 points, tops in the Patriot League and #7 in the nation. Meanwhile, Poillon has been named an honorable mention All-American each of his three seasons and is an Inside Lacrosse preseason All-American this year. Seniors make up the core at the other positions as Kurtis Kaunas spearheads the midfield and Lukas Mikelinich is the quarterback of the defense. Kaunas enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, earning All-League honors, while Mikelinich tallied career highs in groundballs and caused turnovers last year.
The Mountain Hawks were up-and-down in 2014, but in the end, finished with 13 wins – just one shy of a school record. Lehigh finished 6-2 in the Patriot League then defeated Navy and Army in the league tournament to make it back to the championship game and just 60 minutes from another NCAA Tournament berth. The team earned a hard-fought and thrilling win over Army in the Patriot League Semifinals as junior Reid Weber scored the game-winning goal with just 3.7 seconds remaining for the 12-11 victory.
The Mountain Hawks are 39-13 over their last three seasons as Lehigh looks to continue the momentum in 2015. Lehigh has won five straight season openers, which includes a 13-6 win at Furman to begin last year. The Mountain Hawks followed by hosting Marquette in their home opener, also a 13-6 victory.
Lehigh begins its season by hosting Marquette, traveling to Furman and hosting Boston University before a big early-season rematch of the Patriot League Championship Game, at Loyola on Feb. 28. An impressive schedule features home games against nationally-ranked caliber opponents Bucknell, Denver, Army and Princeton, Denver is the preseason #1 team in the nation in all major polls.
The Mountain Hawks are looking to win their sixth straight season opener on Saturday and their fourth home-opening win in their last five tries. Lehigh has won four straight games against the Big East. The Mountain Hawks were 3-0 against the Big East last season (Marquette, Villanova and Georgetown) while beating Villanova in 2013. Lehigh lost to Denver (currently in the Big East) in 2013, but the Pioneers were in the ECAC at the time.
Marquette enjoyed a strong second season of lacrosse, finishing 2014 with a 6-10 record and 4-2 mark in the Big East. The Golden Eagles picked up some big conference wins over St. John’s and Georgetown, also beating Rutgers and Providence. The team’s four conference wins came by a combined four goals, including the St. John’s and Georgetown victories in overtime. Marquette also hung tough in the Big East Tournament, dropping a 9-6 final to Villanova. The Golden Eagles lose their top two and three of their top four scorers, including Tyler Melnyk who finished 2014 with 51 points via 36 goals and 15 assists. Conor Gately is the team’s top returning scorer after tallying 17 goals and 14 assists last season. Jacob Richard led the team with 46 groundballs and does return, as does Jimmy Danaher, who saw the majority of time in goal. He posted an 11.13 GAA and .466 save percentage in 2014.
Lehigh won the only meeting between the two teams, a 13-6 victory last season. Tied at two in the first quarter, the Mountain Hawks scored 11 of the next 13 goals to create separation. Taylor had four points in that game (two goals, two assists) while Poillon stopped nine-of-15 shots sent his way.
Lehigh hits the road next Saturday when the Mountain Hawks play at Furman. Opening faceoff is set for 11 a.m.
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