Whew, a lot happened this weekend! A goal-scoring onslaught from Kendall Ham and the women’s soccer team. A cross country sweep in Detroit. Strong performances in tennis and golf. But we have to start with field hockey’s terrific 3-2 win over 12th-ranked Albany at Graham Field yesterday.
As he typically does in most years, head coach Jeremy Cook has challenged his team with a very difficult non-league schedule. After scrimmaging the reigning Division I (Syracuse) and Division II (East Stroudsburg) national champions, the Bison opened the season with a 2-0 home win over Rutgers, then suffered back-to-back defeats on the road to two very good teams in Saint Joseph’s and No. 15 Princeton. After a slow start at Princeton, the team found its footing and played a very strong second half, which set the stage for Sunday’s home game with Albany.
The Great Danes might not be a household name nationally, but they have built quite a field hockey powerhouse. Albany is just two years removed from a trip to the Final Four, and they were ranked as high as No. 5 nationally en route to a 19-3 record and another NCAA Tournament appearance last year. They have won five of the last seven America East titles.
On a beautiful Sunday at Graham Field, the Bison got on the board first through freshman Brittany Willwerth. Albany scored on two of its 14 penalty corners to take the lead, but Bucknell’s Nicole Rupnik slotted home a rebound on a penalty corner of our own to tie the game with five minutes to go.
Emily Finn made a game-saving stop after Albany earned a corner with no time remaining in regulation, forcing overtime. The Bison then used sheer determination to get the “golden goal” in OT.
On a restart in our own end of the field, Anna Wills sent a long pass ahead to Willwerth, who broke in behind the defense. Albany goalie Melissa Nealon made a nice play to charge out and poke the ball away, but Amy Mucelli and Marisa Morakis never gave up on the play. They both took a swing at the loose ball and directed it on goal, where a sliding Albany defender stopped the ball on the goal line. But there was Willwerth diving to swat it into the back of the cage for her team-leading fourth goal of the year.
— Bucknell Athletics (@Bucknell_Bison) September 12, 2016
The schedule does not get easier for the Bison, who will play a third straight ranked opponent on Tuesday at No. 5 Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won all 33 series meetings, but six of the last eight have been decided by two goals or fewer. The game will be streamed at GoPSUSports.com.
While field hockey was securing that impressive win over Albany, women’s soccer handled another opponent. After routing Mount St. Mary’s 5-0 at home on Friday, the Bison traveled to Iona on Sunday an demolished the Gaels 8-0, scoring four times in each half.
Kendall Ham logged her second career hat trick on Friday, then added two more at Iona to give her eight goals on the season in only seven games. Kendall ranks second nationally in goals, trailing only Central Michigan’s Alexis Pelafas, who has nine. She is not yet halfway through her junior year, but Kendall has already broken into Bucknell’s career top-10 lists for goals (9th with 22) and points (1oth with 48).
As a team, the Bison already have 22 goals, which makes us the fifth-highest scoring team in the nation. Next up: a must-see rematch of the 2015 Patriot League championship game when Boston University visits Emmitt Field on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Bison head cross country/track and field coach Kevin Donner is fond of his hometown of Detroit. He graduated from the University of Detroit in 1984 and later coached there (in fact, he started the women’s program at UD). So every other year or so, Coach Donner likes to return to Detroit to show off his Bucknell teams in his hometown. And once again, the Bison men’s and women’s cross country squads swept the team titles at the Detroit Invitational over the weekend.
The men won with 25 points, claiming three of the top five spots including a runner-up finish from Luke Giugliano. For the women, Kate Scott made it two straight individual wins for her, and the Bison totaled 23 points in a runaway victory.
Back home, the men’s and women’s tennis teams had successful 2016-17 debuts at the Bucknell Fall Invite. Freshmen Paige Leavy and Jill Auteri won their singles flights in their first collegiate competitions. For the men, Daniel Wright and Max McDonald earned singles titles, while Wright and Timber Erskine captured a doubles title.
Men’s golf also hosted its annual fall tournament over the weekend and finished in a tie for second place. Three Bison finished in the top 10: J.P. Raftery (T-4th, 72-69), Connor O’Brien (69-73, T-7th) and John Edler (71-72, T-9th).
The football team fell to 1-1 on the season with a 30-19 loss at Duquesne on Saturday night. The Bison were fighting from behind all night against a very good Dukes squad. After being shut out in the first half, the offense came alive in the second half behind backup quarterback Matt Muh, who threw 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Joey DeFloria, coming off a 145-yard rushing effort in the season-opening win over Marist, tallied 98 yards in this one and also caught a TD pass out of the backfield.
The Bison finally get to play at home this Saturday, welcoming Cornell for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Campus should be buzzing that evening, as the game will be preceded by Fall Fest, featuring a musical performance by pop star Jesse McCartney.
Also this week, we will be looking forward to home tournaments for volleyball, men’s water polo and women’s golf; the return home for the men’s soccer team after a five-game road swing; and the big women’s soccer game on Sunday against Boston Univerrsity. Visit BucknellBison.com or download the official Bison Athletics app for all the scores and schedules.