Lehigh Lacrosse Vies for Third Straight Championship in 2014

The Mountain Hawks were up-and-down through the beginning part of last season. A loss to UMass dropped the squad's record to 5-4. Something needed to change if Lehigh was to win its second straight Patriot League Championship. The Mountain Hawks did just that, winning seven in a row capped off by a dominant 11-5 win over Bucknell.

The success carried over into the offseason and despite losing a talented senior class of 14, the Mountain Hawks are poised to continue the success in 2014.

"I'd say we had one of the best fall semesters we've ever had around here," said seventh-year Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. "Our guys worked incredibly hard on the field, in the weight room, in the community and in the classroom (3.11 team GPA). I thought we developed great team chemistry and leadership over the course of the fall lacrosse season. Our guys made major gains in the strength, speed, and skill development departments during the fall improvement season as well. Overall, the tone for a successful spring was set in the fall semester."

The Mountain Hawks will be led by a pair of two-time All-Americans: senior defenseman Ty Souders and junior goalie Matt Poillon. They spearhead one of the nation's best defenses over the past two seasons and predicted as the third ranked defense by Inside Lacrosse in its Face-Off Magazine.

"We are most veteran on the defensive end and most inexperienced on the offensive end," said Cassese. "I believe we have tremendous toughness, great team chemistry and outstanding leadership."

Attack
Lehigh lost a combined 60 goals and 60 assists between David DiMaria and Dante Fantoni alone, but several Mountain Hawks look primed and ready to step up this season. Juniors Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett lead the offense. Taylor is coming off a 50 point season in 2013; he posted 29 goals and 21 assists, both second on the team. This came after 11 goals and six assists as a freshman.

Taylor will be asked to quarterback the offense and is a great dodger, finisher and feeder, according to Cassese.

Meanwhile, Corbett was named a Second Team All-Patriot League member last season with 23 goals and three assists. He has seen time at both midfield and attack over his first two seasons. Corbett owned 23 points as a freshman, stepping into the lineup from day one.

As Cassese said, Corbett is an "incredible finisher and off-ball player who is tough as nails with great ground ball instincts and skills."

Sophomore Billy Oppenheimer, a Quinnipiac transfer, will be squarely in the mix at attack. He is a slick player, great scorer and off-ball player. The former Germantown Academy standout finished with 13 points in nine games for the Bobcats last season, earning a spot on the NEC All-Rookie Team.

Senior Matt Smith and sophomore Reid Weber should contribute at attack. Smith has played both attack and midfield in his time at Lehigh, posting 19 points over his first three seasons. Weber got into six games a season ago, with two goals and one assist.

According to Cassese, Smith is "quick and shifty, a good feeder and initiator" while Weber is "a tough competitor who does a lot of things well. He's a good shooter and dodger."

Midfield
The Mountain Hawks feature plenty of talent at midfield - some experience along with several individuals looking to break onto the scene.

Junior Alan Henderson is the team's best overall midfielder. The two-way middie is a tough competitor who had eight points last season behind two goals and six assists, while also scooping 33 groundballs and causing three turnovers.

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2014-01-23



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