A players-only meeting, some serious offensive tinkering and the emergence of midfielders Brian Hess (McDonogh), Pat Corbett and Alex Drake has led Lehigh to a 12-4 finish. It's placed them in a position to do what they failed to do last year — win the first NCAA tournament game in program history.
"The seniors met; then we had a team meeting. I always knew we had the talent and the guys on the field capable of getting the job done. Guys had to believe in themselves. We needed to call guys out and we needed more out of guys; we've done that," attackman David DiMaria said of the team meeting after Lehigh's 6-4 loss to Massachusetts on March 20.
"We thought we arrived last year, and the plan was to remain," coach Kevin Cassese said. "That's what we're doing now, and we hope it continues moving forward. I think I learned this year that every team is different. I learned a lesson about being flexible as a coach and being able to adapt to your team."
The players have added motivation to win, said Hess.
"We still don't think we're getting the respect we deserve. We're also doing this for Coach Cassese. Earlier in the week, he told us he loves Lehigh and loves being our coach. He bleeds Brown and Gold all day, but he told us when he signed his letter of intent to play for Duke, he made a vow to hate Carolina the rest of his life."
•The Iroquois national team will appeal to the Federation of International Lacrosse General Assembly to be included in the Elite division in the 2014 World Games held in Commerce City, Colo.
The Iroquois were not in the Blue Division, which as of now will feature Team USA, Canada, England, Australia, Japan and Germany.
The Iroquois were denied admission to the 2010 championships in the United Kingdom on their Haudenosaunee passports and, as a result, did not participate. FIL bylaws stipulate the top six teams from the last championship compete in the Blue Division.
"We think we've made our decisions based on what our bylaws are. From our point of view, that's the only decision we've made. We make decisions based on bylaws given to us, and we can't pick and choose to what we want to adhere," FIL President Stan Cockerton said.
The appeal to the entire General Assembly is "unprecedented," Cockerton said. It is the team's second appeal, the first of which was in January 2013 to the FIL Board of Directors.
FIL Men's Competition Committee Chair Ron Balls reinforced that this wasn't a decision made in malice toward the Iroquois as a result of the outcome from the 2010 tournament.
"It is most certainly not punishment but a matter of following the correct procedure," he wrote in an email. "Rankings are based on positions at the previous event, Iroquois Nationals did not participate in the previous event."
•North Carolina's No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament was widely perceived as a snub because the Tar Heels are No. 1 in the major polls.
Many expected the Tar Heels to receive the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, particularly after they completed one of the most challenging schedules in the country; they ride a nine-game winning streak into postseason play, which includes beating six ranked teams — four of which were in the Top 10.
However, for North Carolina coach Joe Breschi, it didn't matter.
"At the end of the day, you kind of make your own bed, if you will," Breschi said. "I think our schedule is extremely tough. I'm proud of what we put together from a schedule standpoint. I'm proud of our record. The one thing you can't control is how the teams you're playing are doing. I think sometimes the RPI and strength of schedule reflect that. In any given year, anything can happen. You can look at it in several different ways, and how we looked at was certainly as motivation. From our standpoint, to go out there — we're certainly thrilled to be a part of this tournament — we have the motivation to go out there to continue to compete."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun