January 21, 2013

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#LMranks: No. 10 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (Men)

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule


A healthy Dante Fantoni could be in for a big 2013. "He's as good a goal scorer as I've seen," Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said.
© Kevin P. Tucker

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Tuesday with profiles of the ninth-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 3*
Defense: 5
Goalkeeping: 4
Faceoff: 3
* Out of 5

Top Returner

A Dante Fantoni (Sr.)
While senior attackman David DiMaria (24 goals, 23 assists in 2012) is a do-it-all type of presence, Fantoni is the team's most versatile finisher (23g, 20a) and he's healthy after an injury-plagued junior year. "He's as good a goal scorer as I've seen," Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said. "He's very accurate with his shot, can beat you with both hands, and he's got a great feel for the game."

X-Factor

LSM Dylan O'Shaughnessy (So.)
At 6-feet-5, 215 pounds, you can't miss him. And O'Shaughnessy came on strong as a freshman to become quite the disruptive force up top. "If he takes the next step like I think he can, so will our defense. This kid is a beast," Cassese said.

What's New?

It's year one of life without the Lao-Gosney twins. Roman and Cameron were four-year fixtures in Bethlehem, and their graduation has left the midfield rotation up in the air heading into the preseason. "I don't know that we've ever headed into the season not sure of our first midfield line," Cassese said.

What's Not?

The 1-2 attack punch of Fantoni and DiMaria may also have a Lao-Gosney-like presence at Lehigh. This senior combination, which nearly split its combined, 90-point production down the middle in 2012, will be expected to do even more in 2013.

2012 Recap

#LMranks MD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Bryant
No. 19 Hofstra
No. 18 Fairfield
No. 17 Villanova
No. 16 Yale
No. 15 Princeton
No. 14 Penn State
No. 13 UMass
No. 12 Syracuse

No. 11 Colgate
Monday:
No. 10 Lehigh
Tuesday:
No. 9
Wednesday:
No. 8
Thursday:
No. 7
Friday:
No. 6

More: Countdown schedule | WD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

Record: 14-3 (5-1 Patriot)

In A Nutshell: Talent, team identity and coaching philosophy all came together, as Cassese's rebuilding project came to fruition in the fifth year of his first head coaching gig. After losing by 10 goals in their second game against Villanova, the Hawks made history by winning 13 of 14 games to make their first-ever NCAA tournament.

High Point: Lehigh's 16-14 victory over Colgate in the Patriot League tournament championship game was one of the more entertaining games played last spring. That day, the Hawks proved they could stand toe-to-toe in a shootout scenario.

Low Point: Villanova probably did the Hawks a favor by embarrassing them at home, 17-7, in mid-February. The loss dropped Lehigh to 1-1, and it served as a wakeup call to the Hawks, who corrected their over-playing, sloppy defense with dramatic results.

2013 Preview

Best Case: The Mountain Hawks take advantage of their experience, rock-solid defense and proven scoring punch and make their second NCAA tournament, whether or not they win the Patriot League again. The road takes them close to home in Philadelphia for the school's first final four.

Worst Case: Lehigh is unable to establish consistency among their two midfield lines, and place too much pressure on their defense as they slide to the middle of the pack in a very competitive Patriot League.

Inside Scoop

Coach Kevin Cassese's comments on...

A Patrick Corbett (So.)
"He has such a good nose for offensive rebounds and is so good off the ground. One of the best finishers we've ever had."

M Brian Hess (Sr.)
"He's a great leader, and he operates very well with a little bit of space. A quick dodger who can shoot it in the high 90s."

A Dante Fantoni (Sr.)
"He can be sneaky with the way he finds his way to the goal. He makes a lot of plays that don't find their way to the box score."

Rival Coaches Say

"Can they be consistent? I think so. Well-coached, and lots of talent remains. Should be a confident group coming into 2013... How does this team handle success is something everyone has and will continue to say... Two very good offensive players in Fantoni and DiMaria, they definitely play with a confidence about them, if they take some losses early does that hurt them? Defense was very good last year and [sophomore] Matt Pollion is a solid keeper, need to get used to playing with the target on the back now... Will return the nucleus of their defense in third-team All-American Ty Souders as well as Poillon... I watched them in the fall and I thought they were head and shoulders above the team they were playing against. They played with a confidence and enjoyment that reminded me of the late spring."


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