Two area players contributing to Lehigh's surge

Johnston, Hess part of makeover that has Mountain Hawks off to best start in program's history

March 29, 2012|By Edward Lee

No. 8 Lehigh is 9-1 for the first time in program history and has reeled off a school-record eight consecutive wins, and a pair of Baltimore area players have contributed to the team’s success.

Senior attackman Adam Johnston, a Street native and St. Paul’s graduate, has scored 11 goals. Junior midfielder Brian Hess, an Owings Mills native and McDonogh graduate, has chipped in three goals and two assists.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Johnston, who is tied for second on the team in goals despite making just three starts. “A lot of the Baltimore guys like to go to the big ACC schools and the Ivy League schools. I remember when I was a senior trying to make my decision. Coach [Kevin] Cassese had just gotten the job here at Lehigh, and it looked to be a pretty cool opportunity. So I came here and Brian came here the year after and the past four years have been kind of cool to see how we’ve progressed and how the program’s been built to now.”

The Mountain Hawks have quality wins against No. 10 North Carolina and Penn with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 12 Villanova. They get another ranked opponent Friday night when they visit No. 17 and Patriot League foe Navy (5-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference).

Because Lehigh is tied with No. 16 Bucknell for first place in the league with identical 2-0 records, Hess said the players are aware that the Midshipmen will be eager to knock them from the ranks of the undefeated.

“I definitely think it’s a different look for us,” Hess said. “Now we’re the team with a target on our backs. In the past, the teams we played had the targets. Now they’re trying to upset us. I know I’m going to have a ton of family and friends there Friday night, and I know Adam will. With it being on national TV, I think it’s just going to be more of a high-pressure game, but we’ll both definitely have fun, and we’re looking forward to coming back home.”

The Mountain Hawks’ success is surreal on many levels for Hess and Johnston.

“If you would’ve told us we’d be here at this point in the season, I think we would’ve hoped to be in this position, but not necessarily thought we would’ve been,” Johnston said. “It’s been pretty cool. All the guys have played pretty well. We’ve really bonded as a family. The team chemistry seems to be what’s helping us win most of these games. We don’t have too many individual players that are breaking the charts with their overwhelming stats. It’s been team wins that have gotten us to where we are.”

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.