The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Men’s lacrosse clinches spot in Patriot League Tournament with overtime win

Junior Charlie Cunniffe fires off a shot during his four goal, four assist performance against Bucknell. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The men’s lacrosse team (6-8 overall, 3-5 Patriot League) punched its ticket to the Patriot League Championship Friday night in a dramatic overtime victory over Bucknell (3-9 overall, 2-5 Patriot League). 

Despite their records, the Bison were heavy favorites to win on Friday night, having won the previous 11 matchups between the two schools, a streak that dated back to March 19, 2011. 

In addition, looking back to the 2023 Patriot League men’s lacrosse preseason poll, Bucknell was projected to finish in sixth place while Lafayette was voted eighth. 

However, an inspired Lafayette team took Bucknell to overtime and won by a score of 14-13. Junior attack Charlie Cunniffe spearheaded the effort, scoring four goals and notching four assists in a performance that saw him become the second Leopard this year to notch 100 career points

“I was able to have a great performance because of the great game plan that my coaches drew up, and because my teammates have trust in each other,” Cunniffe said. “Guys like Lehman, Mathes and Kraham draw so much attention with the ball in their stick that it allows me to be open. It felt awesome to be able to help the team achieve such a big win, and I credit my performance to my teammates’ trust in each other. Anyone on the field can score at any given time.”

Following the Bucknell win and Tuesday’s home loss to the third-ranked University of Virginia, Cunniffe leads the Leopards in points this season with 41 and has the most assists on the team with 22. Junior attack Peter Lehman still has the most goals this year, with 27, despite failing to score on Friday night. 

“I am able to assist my teammates so much because guys like Cecil, Sullivan and Kraham work hard off the ball to get open,” Cunniffe said. “I like to play with my head up when I am dodging so I can see the field, and with those guys constantly working off the ball it makes it easy for me to find them when they are open.”

Despite Cunniffe’s prolific performance, an extra period of play was needed for the Leopards to overcome their opponent. Once regulation time ended with the teams tied 13-13, the game went into overtime. 

“When the game went to overtime, we all knew that we had been there before. We knew we would need to lean on each other to get the win,” junior attack Kalman Kraham said. “Coach Myers didn’t say much, as he knew that we understood the moment and what was on the line.”

Kraham, who has scored a total of 23 goals this season, went on to prove yet again that his offense can be relied on. Receiving a pass from sophomore midfielder Liam Sargent, Kraham deftly snapped his stick over and behind his shoulder to place the ball in the top corner of the goal. 

“It’s definitely a great feeling to put it in the back of the net to send us to the playoffs,” Kraham said. “I think it’s easy to boil that game down to the overtime goal, but we wouldn’t have won that game without guys like James Turco, Carter Cecil, Liam Sargent and Sean Rushton.”

The last time Lafayette competed in the postseason, the team entered as the third seed out of four teams. The Leopards lost in the first round to Navy. This time around, they will be facing first-seed Army who has yet to lose a game in conference play. 

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Eric Ponieman, Assistant Sports Editor
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