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US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Dec. 17. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on through the end of the month and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition in February.

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No. 18 Lehigh

2019 Record: 9-8 (5-3, Patriot League)
Coach: Kevin Cassesse (13th season)
Assistants: Will Scudder, John Crawley, Jack Deragon
All-Time Record: 611-706-17
NCAA Appearances: 2
Final Fours: 0
Championships: 0

2020 Schedule

Feb. 8 Utah
Feb. 15 @ Virginia
Feb. 20 VMI
Feb. 22 @ NJIT
Feb. 29 Navy
March 7 Holy Cross
March 14 @ Army
March 21 @ Penn State
March 24 Wagner
March 28 @ Lafayette
April 4 Bucknell
April 11 @ Colgate
April 18 Boston U.
April 24 @ Loyola

Save the Date
April 24

The path to the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League tournament could very well go through Loyola again this year, and Lehigh might be as good a bet as anyone to dislodge the Greyhounds from the top spot in the conference. However, the Mountain Hawks are 0-8 all-time against Loyola, with the last four meetings each decided by at least six goals.

A Two-Headed Faceoff Monster

This is the Mountain Hawks’ plan, a couple years in the making, heading into 2020. They have a known quantity in senior Conor Gaffney. Redshirt-freshman Mike Sisselberger, an Under Armour All-America selection in 2018, joins the rotation this year.

“The way they match up against their opponents is an absolute nightmare for opposing teams,” Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said. “I’m excited about how it all plays out. They have bought in as well as I could have hoped as far as sharing the reps and realizing at the end of the day, it is about the team and Lehigh winning faceoffs and not their own stats or percentages.”

Of course, their own stats could wind up being pretty good, anyway.

Gaffney is a three-year starter who has won 63.7 percent of his draws, including 69.7 percent a year ago en route to Patriot League specialist of the year honors and an honorable mention All-America nod. He also possesses exquisite attention to detail with his approach and technique.

Still, he took 357 faceoffs last year, and Cassese’s experience as a U.S. national team assistant during the 2014 world championships (when the Americans had Chris Eck and Greg Gurenlian) demonstrated the value of a faceoff tag team.

Enter Sisselberger, who Lehigh chose to redshirt last year in part to maximize his long-term impact on the program. The Mountain Hawks’ first Under Armour All-American since defenseman Eddie Bouhall in 2015, Sisselberger brings an impressive motor — one no doubt revving even faster after not playing last spring — and a year of apprenticeship under Gaffney.

“The thing they both do well is they’re unbelievably strong human beings,” Cassese said. “They are just fire hydrants. They’re typically in the top three in all of our weight room [competitions]. It’s actually healthy competition between the two of them because they want to win.”

Recent seasons have clearly illustrated the value of a dominant faceoff man. Denver was rarely out of a game with four-time first-team All-American Trevor Baptiste at the X. TD Ierlan’s brought considerable value to Albany and now Yale. And if Ierlan was last year’s top transfer, Penn’s Kyle Gallagher was right there with him and helped the Quakers get within a goal of Memorial Day weekend.

If Lehigh enjoys a bounceback season after an injury-riddled 2019, chances are its faceoff tandem will have dominated while not fretting about splitting time.

“That’s hard, especially at that position because it’s so stat-driven and it’s one of those spots one guy is on the field,” Cassese said. “I’m excited, and they’re both excited about this year and what it could bring.”

Projected Starters

A – Andrew Pettit – R-Sr. – 46 G, 20 A (in 2018)
A – Tommy Schelling – So. – 17 G, 13 A
A – Christian Mule’ – Fr. – 56 G, 47 A (high school)
M – Andrew Eichelberger – Sr. – 18 G, 3 A
M – Cole Kirst – So. – 9 G, 3 A
M – Ryan Klose – Sr. – 13 G, 2 A
FO – Conor Gaffney – Sr. – .697 FO%, 152 GB
LSM – Teddy Leggett – Jr. – 79 GB, 23 CT
SSDM – Christian McHugh – Sr. – 12 GB, 6 CT
D – Michael Hagenberger – So. – 8 GB, 4 CT
D – Anthony Tangredi – So. – 3 GB, 6 CT
D – Matt Douglas – Jr. – 37 GB, 4 CT
G – James Spence – Jr. – 9.55 GAA, .539 SV%

Tewaaraton Watch
Andrew Pettit, A, R-Sr.

Pettit suffered a torn ACL right before the start of the 2019 season, depriving the Mountain Hawks of an elite attackman. There’s a case to be made that Pettit, a three-time captain, is Lehigh’s most important recruit for this season. Rather than spend his final year elsewhere as a grad transfer, Pettit is back to help Lehigh reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

X Factor
Mike Monitto, M, Soph.

The numbers (two goals and two assists while starting three games as a freshman) might not suggest it, but Monitto played a larger role down the stretch in 2019 and is a breakout candidate. “He’s a guy in my opinion who could eventually be one of the best midfielders in the league, and he could do that as early as this year as a sophomore,” Cassese said. “He has some maturing to do as far as understanding situations within the game, and we’re working hard with him. His athleticism and sheer lacrosse ability is undeniable.”

National Rankings

Offense 47th 10.65 GPG
Defense 6th 9.47 GAA
Faceoffs 4th 68.5%
Ground Balls 3rd 40.41/game
Caused TO 20th 9.18/game
Shooting 52nd 26.7%
Man-Up 38th 33.3%
Man-Down 6th 75.8%


Lehigh lost 60 percent of its games started from a season ago to graduation, the largest figure in the country. Of course, the Mountain Hawks also dealt with an unusually high degree of poor medical luck and will get several players (including attackman Andrew Pettit and defenseman Michael Hagenberger) back from injuries this season.

Enemy Lines

“Lehigh didn't live up to the preseason hype in 2019 in part to injuries including losing Andrew Petit in preseason. Craig Chick and Eddie Bouhall are gone on defense, but Petit is back with most of the offense and maybe the best one-two punch at the faceoff X in the country.”