Lehigh Lacrosse Vies for Third Straight Championship in 2014

Junior Sam Lawrence and senior Harrison Lawrence look to contribute at defensive midfield. Neither has extensive experience Sam playing four games last season and Harrison seven but each own tremendous upside. As Cassese said, Sam is big, strong, athletic and good in transition while Harrison is a seasoned veteran, smart and a very good athlete.

Senior co-captain and 2013 All-Patriot League Tournament Team honoree Ryan Buttenbaum returns at faceoff for the Mountain Hawks. Buttenbaum won 62 of 123 (50.4 percent) at the X last year, highlighted by winning 11 of 19 in the Patriot League Semifinals against Colgate and 7 of 13 in the Championship Game vs. Bucknell. Buttenbaum has won 103 of 212 faceoffs in his career, backing up three-time All-Patriot League honoree Ryan Snyder. Buttenbaum was an Inside Lacrosse top 100 incoming freshman and looks to step up as the primary player at the X this season. According to Cassese, the Malvern, Pa. native is "big, strong and tough."

Complementing Buttenbaum is freshman Casey McAdam out of Somerville, N.J. who is "quick and skilled and has potential to be a very good player."

Junior two-time All-American Matt Poillon looks to continue his unparalled success. A starter from day one, Poillon owns a 25-6 career record with a 7.27 GAA and 59.7 save percentage. The three-time All-American is among the active leaders in career wins and currently owns the seventh best goals against average in NCAA history.

"Matt is one of the best in the business," said Cassese. "He is athletic, explosive and charismatic. He makes many routine saves and can erase goals with spectacular saves."

Sophomore Steve Brodeur will be the primary backup for Poillon after playing in three games (one start) as a freshman.

The Mountain Hawks know what they have at defense while some unknowns at midfield and attack will need to step up. The talent is in place at both positions. Now, it's a matter of proving it.

"We'll need to have some midfielders step up," said Cassese. "We have more depth at that position than ever before, just need to find the right personnel combinations."

One of the biggest positive for the program for 2014 is the leadership that has emerged. As early as the first preseason practice, the players showed tremendous attention to detail.

"Our senior class has done a great job of getting on the same page and getting the team on the same page," said Cassese. "They've made a point to focus on an improved culture for the program and they've set the team standards extremely high."

Winning a third straight championship won't be easy. The addition of 2012 National Champion and 2013 NCAA Tournament team Loyola adds to the already deep Patriot League.

"Loyola is a terrific team and will strengthen the Patriot League overall," said Cassese. "I have a feeling this will quickly develop into an exciting rivalry. We look forward to competing against such a talented team."

Last year's senior class was a talented group.

"The class of 2013 was the winningest class in Lehigh lacrosse history. They were flat out winners. We will miss them. But, we will work hard to build upon the legacy they left and I believe the class of 2014 is excited about leaving a legacy of their own."

Expectations for the program have changed from solely winning a Patriot League Championship to doing damage in the NCAA Tournament and ultimately winning a National Championship.

"The minimum expectation of our program is to compete for championships on an annual basis," said Cassese. "League Championships and National Championships."

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