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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #22 Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Lehigh bounced in and out of the top 20 throughout the season, but could not claim a Patriot League Championship.

Justin Lafleur

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review!

#22 Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Conference: Patriot League
2019 Record: 9-8 (5-3 in Patriot League)
Postseason: Defeated Boston University in Patriot League semifinals, lost to Army West Point in Patriot League Championship
Head coach: Kevin Cassese (12th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Alexander Tumminello (28)
Assists: Lucas Spence (28)
Points: Lucas Spence (53)
Faceoffs: Conor Gaffney (249-of-357; 69.7%)
Ground balls: Conor Gaffney (152)
Caused turnovers: Craig Chick (42)
Goals against average: James Spence (9.55 GAA)
Save percentage: James Spence (53.9%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Craig Chick (42 CTs, 57 GBs, 1 G), A Lucas Spence (25 Gs, 28 As, 42 GBs, 7 CTs), A Tristan Rai (22 Gs, 25 As, 29 GBs, 6 CTs), D Eddie Bouhall (11 CTs, 20 GBs, 2 As), M Mickey Fitzpatrick (20 Gs, 16 As, 24 GBs, 2 CTs), M Alexander Tumminello (28 Gs, 3 As, 20 GBs, 5 CTs), Matt Rimol (4 CTs, 18 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 173 of 293 points (59%)
Senior starts lost: 102 of 170 (60%)

Season Summary

At the beginning of the season, some saw Lehigh as a dark horse pick to go deep in the NCAA Tournament. They were certainly projected to compete with Loyola for the Patriot League title, but there were also people that expected them to play deeper in May as an at-large selection.

Lehigh began the season with a 15-8 win over NJIT, but unexpected turns began the following weekend against Hofstra. Up 3-1 entering the fourth quarter, the Mountain Hawks gave up three goals en route to a shocking and low-scoring 4-3 loss.

Then came the start of what would be a long year of injuries. Andrew Pettit, one of the team’s top offensive weapons in 2018, was out for the rest of the season while Lucas Spence would miss some time with an injury of his own. The defense was also affected with SSDM Christian McHugh. Entering their road matchup against Virginia, the first of what would be five straight against ranked opponents, the Mountain Hawks had three freshmen starting. Cole Kirst was at attack, while Mike Monitto and Tommy Schelling were at midfield. Mickey Fitzpatrick also moved down from midfield to attack. Another player that stepped up was senior Alex Tumminello, who had a hat-trick and an assist in the three-goal loss. The senior found himself in the starting lineup the following week against Cornell and put up a pair of goals. But it didn’t well as Lehigh gave up seven straight in the final quarter to lose a two-goal lead and the game.

The start of Patriot League play began with a visit to Colgate. Spence and McHugh returned, and although the senior attackman didn’t start, he picked up where he left off and scored a hat-trick and two assists in a two-goal win. The following week at home against Army West Point, Spence scored another hat-trick while Craig Chick caused four turnovers in a three-goal victory over the Black Knights. A few days later, Spence and Tumminello helped fuel a fourth quarter comeback with the help of 17 saves from goalie James Spence.

Lehigh was starting to gain momentum when the team suffered another big injury, this time to senior defenseman Eddie Bouhall, who would be done for the remainder of the year. The winning continued with victories over Lafayette, Navy, and Boston University. All of a sudden, the Mountain Hawks were 5-0 in conference play with a couple of their key seniors sidelined. But Lehigh was dominated early by Loyola, who began the game on a 9-0 run, and another player went down with an injury in freshman defenseman Michael Hagenberger, Bouhall’s replacement. That spot would be filled by various different players for the rest of the year.

Losses piled up toward the end of the regular season. A bad second half against Robert Morris resulted in a one-goal loss. Following a St. Bonaventure win, Lehigh ended with losses to Bucknell and Holy Cross entering the Patriot League semifinals with an 8-7 record. Since BU became a varsity program, the Mountains Hawks have had their number, and it continued in the PL Tournament. Down 7-5 in the third, Lehigh scored four straight to take a 9-7 lead and held on from potential Terrier rallies to advance to the Patriot League Championship against Army West Point. The Black Knights got out early with a 3-0 lead, but the Mountain Hawks responded with all five second quarter goals and had a 7-5 lead in the fourth quarter. But Army ended the game and Lehigh’s season with a 6-0 run in the final 12:16 to win the conference title.

Spence and Tristan Rai were the senior mainstays at attack, with the third starter usually being Mickey Fitzpatrick, who began the season at midfield. Cole Kirst began the season mainly starting at attack, but also saw time at midfield. Once the team went deeper into the season, the midfield was typically Andrew Eichelberger, the only midfielder who started all 17 games, Tumminello, and Tommy Schelling. Ryan Klose and Crew Cintron were other key offensive contributors.

There wasn’t a lot of mixing on defense as it was on offense. Chick and Rimol started all 17 games on close defense. Bouhall was looking like one of the top defensemen in the entire conference before he went down and Hagenberger also looked good filling in before his injury. When they both went down, Teddy Leggett, Anthony Tangredi, Matt Douglas, Patrick McIlroy, and Nick Marren all started at least a game. Leggett, Douglas, and Judah Hicks were the primary LSMs with McHugh, Erik DiGirolamo, Parker Kent, and even Tangredi were short sticks during the season. James Spence started all 17 games as the second season as the primary starter, while Conor Gaffney dominated at the faceoff X with nearly a 70% win percentage.

Looking Ahead

Lehigh has made the Patriot League title game in five of the last eight seasons. They’ll have some work to do if they want to make it six trips in the last nine years.

Despite the top four scorers graduating, Andrew Pettit will be back for a fifth-year. In 2018, Pettit led the Mountain Hawks with 46 goals and 66 points. Kirst, Schelling, Klose, and Cintron are all early candidates to be starters. Eichelberger returns at midfield, with even more potential options up top. Monitto, Matt Ilchuk, and Austin Pierce are some players that could see their roles increase. All seven of the candidates mentioned could play both positions.

The starting defense at the beginning of the season will be completely different. Michael Hagenberger could be the only “lock” as a starter. Could one of the long stick midfielders, notably Leggett or Douglas, move down in a move similar to what Craig Chick did prior to his junior year? The short stick defenders, goalie, and faceoff should be the same. Mike Sisselberger could take some of Gaffney’s draws to rest him up for a potential deep run, especially now with Joel Trucksess transferring to Maryland.

Poll

How many wins will Lehigh get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    0-5
    (3 votes)
  • 20%
    6-7
    (13 votes)
  • 53%
    8-9
    (35 votes)
  • 21%
    10+
    (14 votes)
65 votes total Vote Now