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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #21 Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Lehigh returned to the national scene with a run at the Patriot League championship. Is 2019 their year to win the conference?

Justin Lafleur/Lehigh Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series last week with Ohio State, Detroit Mercy, Quinnipiac, Navy, and Rutgers.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#21 Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Conference: Patriot League
2018 Record: 10-7 (5-3 in Patriot League play)
Postseason: Defeated Colgate in Patriot League quarterfinals, defeated Navy in Patriot League semifinals, lost to Loyola in Patriot League championship
Head coach: Kevin Cassese (11th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Andrew Pettit (46)
Assists: Tristan Rai (25)
Points: Andrew Pettit (66)
Faceoffs: Conor Gaffney (214-of-360; 59.4%)
Ground balls: Conor Gaffney (101)
Caused turnovers: Craig Chick (41)
Goals against average: James Spence (9.03 GAA)
Save percentage: James Spence (49.8%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: M John Mehok (11 Gs, 8 As), M Ian Strain (4 Gs, 9 As, 20 GBs), M Nolan Apers (6 Gs, 3 As), D J.J. Foley (8 GBs, 4 CTs)
Senior scoring departing: 42 of 293 points (14.3%)
Senior starts lost: 28 of 170 (16.5%)

Season Summary

It’s been a few years since people have discussed Lehigh being in the national spotlight. 2018 might have been the return of the Mountain Hawks to the national stage, or at least the start of it.

Lehigh started their season with two good wins against NJIT and Mercer before taking on a nationally ranked North Carolina squad. The Mountain Hawks had a one-goal lead with 3:04 left in the game, but UNC tied it with a goal from Timmy Kelly 42 seconds later and William Perry won it in overtime. But despite the loss, it showed Lehigh had some very good talent. They opened up Patriot League play with wins over Holy Cross, Colgate, and Army West Point.

Then came a big midweek game at home against Rutgers, which was another dogfight. The Mountain Hawks tied the game up at seven midway through the final frame before Jules Heningburg scored the eventual game-winner for the Scarlet Knights. More heartbreak again for Lehigh, but they would take care of Lafayette and Hofstra in their next two games. They suffered their first conference loss of the season to Navy in the following game, where they gave up two separate 3-0 second half runs by the Midshipmen, before edging out Boston University on the road to end March.

The beginning of April was rough for Lehigh, losing to Loyola, Cornell, and Bucknell to end the regular season. A great start into the season was turned into a mediocre end heading into the Patriot League Tournament. The Mountain Hawks had no problem with the Raiders once again, which meant a rematch with Navy in the semifinals. It was a competitive game for Lehigh, where they once again found themselves tied late in the game. In overtime, Lucas Spence gave the Mountain Hawks the win in overtime and propelled them into the Patriot League championship, where they would fall to Loyola.

Andrew Pettit, Tristan Rai, and Lucas Spence, all juniors, started all 17 games at attack this season. Each player had at least 20 goals and assists as well. Junior Mickey Fitzpatrick and senior John Mehok were two of the mainstays on the first midfield, each recording 19 points. The top unit also saw sophomore Andrew Eichelberger and seniors Ian Strain and Nolan Apers at times. The offense also saw notable contributions made from sophomores Austin Pierce, Crew Cintron, and Ryan Klose, as well as junior Alexander Tumminello.

Juniors Eddie Bouhall and Matt Rimol remained at close defense in 2018 and were joined by fellow junior Craig Chick, who moved from LSM. Like he was at the long stick position, Chick dominated with a team-high 41 caused turnovers and 50 ground balls. Senior J.J. Foley also played a role as the fourth defenseman. With Chick at close, freshman Teddy Leggett proved to be another talented LSM with 61 ground balls, 20 caused turnovers, and even a pair of goals. Fellow freshman Matt Douglas was the second string LSM. The short sticks included sophomores Erik DiGirolamo, Christian McHugh, and Parker Kent. FOGO Conor Gaffney showed he was the best faceoff guy in the Patriot League and one of the best in the country with a 59.4% win percentage at the X, while freshman James Spence had a good rookie campaign with a 9.03 goals against average. Sophomore Colin Kirst also got a good chunk of minutes in goal.

Looking Ahead

How Lehigh looks now will be very similar to how they look entering 2019. They lose only three important midfielders and a reserve defenseman to graduation. That’s it.

The trio at attack have one more year left together before they all leave. Fitzpatrick and Eichelberger are the two main starters that remain at midfield, with Pierce and Tumminello possibly being the third starter. But expectations with that unit are that at least one guy gets above 20 points. After Rai’s 48 points, the next leading scorer was Mehok and Fitzpatrick at 19 each. There has to be more contributions from that unit next year.

The defense, specialists, and goalie all return, adding up to be what could be a special season once again in Bethlehem. From what it looks like on paper, Lehigh appears to be all in for 2019 and are a very legit contender to knock off Loyola at the top of the Patriot League.

Here’s who the Mountain Hawks will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Lehigh’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Jack Barclay Midfield Ridgewood (NJ)
Andrew Bosland Midfield Delbarton (NJ)
John Chace Midfield Pomfret (CT)
Michael Hagenberger Defense/LSM Mount Sinai (NY)
Judah Hicks Defense/LSM Moorestown (NJ)
Cole Kirst Attack Seton Hall Prep (NJ)
Chad Kittaka Attack Carmel (IN)
Matt Marker Attack Allentown Central Catholic (PA)
Patrick McIlroy Defense Westfield (NJ)
Mike Monitto Midfield Half Hollow Hills East (NY)
Tommy Schelling Attack Delbarton (NJ)
Mike Sisselberger Midfield/FO Southern Lehigh (PA)
Anthony Tangredi Defense Chaminade (NY)
Michael Venezia Goalie Massapequa (NY)
Jesse James West Attack Sparta (NJ)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will Lehigh get in 2019?

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