The Lehigh Mountain Hawks had a successful campaign in 2013, winning the Patriot League for the second year in a row. Led by players like Brian Hess, David DiMaria, Matt Poillon, and Mike Noone, Lehigh played their way into the NCAA Tournament. Their season ended when they lost to UNC in the first round. The upcoming season will certainly be a tough one for the Mountain Hawks, as they graduated what was arguably the best class of players in program history. Thankfully for the Lehigh faithful, they still return a large portion of talent, coming in at #17 in the polls.
Attack: The story in Bethlehem for the past two years was the Italian Connection. The skillful maneuvers of the offense’s quarterback, David DiMaria, often wound up with the carefully placed shot of Dante Fantoni. Unfortunately for Lehigh, both of these players have graduated.
On the bright side, they still have Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett. Both juniors, they are the returning players with the most offensive production. Taylor had 29 goals and 21 assists last year, and his crafty finishing skills will be a huge asset to Lehigh this year.Corbett (23 goals, 3 assists) can play attack and midfield, and is also a talented finisher. Corbett is very fast, and he and Taylor will team up yet again to lead this offense.
The third starter will likely be senior Matt Smith or Sophomore Billy Oppenheimer. Smith, a quick dodger who has played midfield in the past, but could be a big contributor at the attack position. Oppenheimer is a transfer from Qunnipiac who is a talented finisher. Klay Heston and Reid Weber will also see more time this year, and Kurtis Kaunas will also see significant time. Kaunas could also see some midfield runs.
Midfield: After losing seniors Brian Hess, Kyle Stiefel, and Alex Drake, the midfield will also need to see some players step up into larger roles. 2-way midfielder Alan Henderson will be back as a junior. Henderson can play anywhere on the field, and though his numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, his contributions to this squad are invaluable.
Cody Ferraro played a little last year, and is a good shooter who will see much more time this year and will certainly improve on his four goals from last year. It’s unclear who the third starter will be, but these guys are certainly in the mix: 2-way middie Jack Bogorowski, Sophomore Ray Mastroianni, and senior Harry Lawrence. Lawrence will also see a good amount of time at defensive midfield. Senior Jimmy Cahill is a shutdown short-stick d-middie, and will be a staple of the Lehigh defense after scooping up 12 groundballs and causing 7 turnovers.
LSM: Dylan O’Shaughnessey is a monster pole who creates turnovers all over the field and has the ability to turn any opportunity into transition. The 6-5 junior from Chaminade had 19 groundballs and 6 caused turnovers last season.
FOGO: After being in a reserve role behind Ryan Snyder his first three seasons, Ryan Buttenbaum will be the #1 guy at the X. A co-captain this year, Buttenbaum went 50% last season and earned All Patriot League Tournament honors. Look for this senior’s numbers to go up with his increased playing time. Buttenbaum has succeeded against some of the nation’s top faceoff guys in the past, and should continue that trend this year.
Defense: The leader of this unit is senior and All-American Ty Souders. Souders is a physical, shutdown defender who will draw every team’s #1 attackman. Souders is an animal on defense, disrupting offenses all over the NCAA. He had 35 groundballs and 19 caused turnovers last year. Joining Souders is senior Lukas Mikelinich is back this year, after missing last season. As a sophomore Mikelinich was outstanding, and he throws great takeaway checks. Returning to the unit is sophomore Tripp Telesco, who had an outstanding freshman season. Telesco had 29 groundballs and 14 caused turnovers in a year where he started ten games for the Mountain Hawks. This starting unit will cause lots of issues for opponents. Senior Sam Cunard will be on IR until April, but he could be a valuable asset everywhere defensively down the stretch if he can come back.
Goalie: All-American Matt Poillon is one of the best goalkeepers in the NCAA. Poillon struggled with injuries early on last year, but will be full strength this season. He posted a 7.92 goals against average last year, with an impressive save percentage of 60%. “Petey” will have another great year in Bethlehem for Coach Kevin Cassese.
Overall: Out of all the NCAA teams, it is difficult to find a team who graduated a class as valuable as the one the Mountain Hawks lost. Lehigh has tons of losses to overcome, but their replacements are certainly capable players. Keep an eye on certain aspects of their offense. Who will be the quarterback on offense without DiMaria? Who will be the offensive initiator without Alex Drake? If Lehigh’s younger players can rise to the occasion, the Mountain Hawks could be a dangerous team in 2014.
For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Boston, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius,
Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Delaware, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Furman,
Georgetown, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns Hopkins, and Lafayette.