first_img Published on April 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Comments Cameron Lao-Gosney and his Lehigh teammates looked around at one another after yet another disappointing season came to an end last spring.Despite experiencing their share of low points all year, they repeated what they had said the previous two seasons.Next year was finally going to be ‘the year.’‘We’ve been saying that for the past two or three years,’ Lao-Gosney said. ‘It’s just everybody’s older now. I don’t know exactly at what point we knew it, but I think coming in our mindset this year has just been a little different, you know, ‘This is it. There’s no doubt anymore.’‘That’s really what it was. We were just getting the doubt out.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe doubt is now gone as the Mountain Hawks (10-1, 3-0 Patriot League) are off to their best start in program history, rising to No. 7 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.Lehigh has won 10 games for just the fifth time and the first time since 1997 when the team won 11 games.This year, though, the Mountain Hawks have three games remaining before the Patriot League playoffs begin April 27. Lao-Gosney and his teammates are trying to bring their school its first conference championship since 1999 to follow through on their promise to make this year special.After going 19-27 the last three seasons, the eight seniors came back determined to leave their mark on a mediocre program.Like his players, head coach Kevin Cassese knew the team had the talent to live up to its lofty goals, winning conference titles and playing in NCAA tournaments. But Cassese didn’t see the leadership in the locker room they saw.That changed this year.‘They’ve done a nice job of coming together, realizing we’ve come up short on a lot of our goals over the last couple years,’ Cassese said, ‘and that this year, they were going to make it different.’For Cassese, the turning point for the program came after Villanova trounced his team 17-7 in the team’s home opener and second game of the season.The doubt that had lingered over the Mountain Hawks was back, threatening another promising season. But it also served as a needed wake-up call that Lehigh still had one more hurdle to get over before it could achieve its goals.The leadership that had been lacking among the players was forced to develop. In previous seasons, Cassese said players didn’t want to step on each other’s toes and speak up to push each other at practice or during games.After the loss to the Wildcats, the players called a meeting and vented their frustrations. They didn’t want this year to become like every other year.‘In that meeting the players addressed a lot of topics, but really called each other out and asked each other to step up in a variety of ways,’ Cassese said. ‘And that ability to be honest with one another and to really confront the brutal facts of what we were doing and how we were going through the motions has been the difference in us being able to turn this thing around.’For Lao-Gosney, this year also serves as his last chance to erase the memories of the ‘dark days’ of the program.The senior midfielder arrived as a confident freshman, expecting to compete for conference and national championships.The Mountain Hawks went out and won only four games.Lao-Gosney remembers the pain that came with blowing a 7-1 lead to Bucknell and losing 12-11 last season. The embarrassment of getting run off the field by the Bison 13-5 in the team’s final game in the conference semifinals still creeps into his memories of the disappointing year.But Lao-Gosney said the team has made all the necessary plays this season. It starts with more focus and attention to detail at practice.‘In years past, we’ve let everything slip, but this year they’re really holding everything down,’ junior attack Dante Fantoni said. ‘They want to make sure everything goes right for their senior year.’And everything has gone right since the team’s loss to Villanova on Feb. 18. The Mountain Hawks have reeled off nine straight wins.It hasn’t been easy, as they’ve had to overcome multiple deficits. But this year’s experienced group is confident after playing the last three years together.So when the team fell behind 2-0 early in the season against Penn State in University Park, Pa., the doubt that once surrounded the program stayed away. And it didn’t return with the streak in jeopardy again last Friday when the Mountain Hawks trailed Navy 4-1 into the second period.Lehigh beat then-No. 17 Penn State 9-5. And it beat then-No. 19 Navy 9-4.As the streak continues and the Mountain Hawks rewrite the record books along the way, Lao-Gosney and his teammates have gotten over the hump and made good on their promise.‘It feels surreal. I would imagine it would be different for teams who are used to being in this position, you know, winning and being in the spotlight,’ Lao-Gosney said. ‘… I feel like the feeling is much, much different for teams who are used to being in the middle of the pack and suffering losing seasons, so I’m ecstatic. We’re all ecstatic, my senior class, we couldn’t be happier.‘I have a feeling like we’re meant for this, not meant for this, but we’ve worked so hard that like it’s about damn time, you know?’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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