BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Riding the nation’s longest winning streak and the most wins in the country, the #7 Lehigh men’s lacrosse team heads to #19 Navy for a Friday night showdown against the Midshipmen, who are riding a four-game winning streak of their own. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. The tilt will take center stage as the only Division I men’s lacrosse game of the day; it will also air live nation-wide on CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan and Steve Panarelli on the call.
In addition to the national TV coverage, Lehighsports.com will have live audio of the game with Steve Lomangino and Chris Wakely. A live interactive blog will also be run, beginning at 6:45 p.m. Click here to follow along.
The Mountain Hawks are in the midst of a historic season. With their win over Holy Cross, Lehigh set a school record with its eighth straight victory. The Mountain Hawks’ 9-1 start marks their best in program history while they became the first team in the nation to nine wins on the season; numerous teams stand right behind them with eight.
Lehigh has already accomplished things the program has never (or rarely) seen. Included is its first win over Yale since 1918, first over Penn State since 1971 and only its fourth-ever win against Army. The Mountain Hawks snapped a 26-game losing streak against Navy last season, beating the Midshipmen for the first time since 1913. On Friday, they’ll look to win their first-ever game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1959. The only other Lehigh victory all-time came in 1913 by a 4-3 final. Ironically, the Mountain Hawks haven’t played at Navy since 2008, so no current Lehigh player has played at the historic stadium.
The Mountain Hawks extended their winning streak to eight via a dominant 12-3 win over Holy Cross on Saturday. The defense was once again dominant, lowering its goals against average to 5.60, which leads the nation. Junior defenseman Mike Noone and freshman goalie Matt Poillon were both honored by the Patriot League with Defensive Player and Goalkeeper of the Week honors, respectively. For Poillon, it marked his fifth weekly award of the season (in seven weeks), including one Rookie of the Week honor. The Lehigh defense has now allowed four goals or fewer in five games this season. It’s allowed two goals or less in all but four quarters as part of its winning streak, allowing three only four times (fourth quarter vs. Army, second vs. Yale and first and fourth at UNC).
With a win, Lehigh would reach double-digit victories for only the fifth time in school history and first time since 1997 when they were 11-4. The school record for victories is 12 in 1994; the team finished 12-3 that season. The Mountain Hawks are looking to improve to 6-0 on the road this season while winning their fifth straight game over a ranked foe.
Navy is riding four straight victories into Friday night’s showdown, none bigger than last time out at Colgate when the Midshipmen snagged a 12-11 win behind a game-tying goal from Sam Jones with just 3.4 seconds remaining. Navy jumped to #19 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media poll, cracking the poll for the first time since March 8, 2010. The Midshipmen are 3-1 in Patriot League play, also beating Holy Cross and Lafayette while falling to Bucknell. Navy rounds out its league schedule at Army on April 14. Leading the offense is Tucker Hull with 41 points via 21 goals and 20 assists. Sam Jones is second with 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) while Taylor Reynolds has 17 (11 goals, six assists). Austin Miller leads the defense with 27 groundballs and 11 caused turnovers while Pat Kiernan has 26 groundballs and nine caused turnovers. R.J. Wickham has impressed in goal, posting a 9.20 GAA and 53.4 save percentage. Navy has struggled at the faceoff X, winning only 44.2 percent for the season as a team.
Despite Lehigh’s win last season, Navy has dominated the all-time series, holding a 29-2 advantage. The sides first met in 1910, which the Midshipmen won, 4-2. Lehigh won its first in 1913 (4-3) before going 98 years until it’s next victory when the Mountain Hawks topped Navy, 14-10, last season. That snapped a 26-game losing streak. Lehigh is 0-5 all-time at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and hasn’t played there since 2008. The sides have played twice in the Patriot League Tournament, in 2005 and ‘06.
Lehigh will head to Colgate next Saturday (Apr. 7) for a 2 p.m. showdown against the nationally-ranked Raiders. The Mountain Hawks return to the Ulrich Sports Complex the following Saturday (Apr. 14) against #16 Bucknell for the final home game of the season. Faceoff for Senior Night is set for 7 p.m.
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