Some great team and individual performances for the Bison last week! Two teams in particular — men’s water polo and women’s soccer — continued their red-hot starts. Field hockey won twice on the road, including their Patriot League opener. Men’s soccer earned a much-needed home win with league play looming next week. Women’s golf captured the team title at the Bucknell Invitational, while the men finished strong at Cornell after a slow start.

Men’s Water Polo, ranked 15th nationally last week, played at home this weekend, hosting the three-day Bison Invitational at Kinney Natatorium. John McBride’s team went 4-0, first putting on quite an offensive display and then finishing off the weekend with a come-from-behind 9-8 win over No. 14 Brown.

The Bison started off the weekend with a 24-8 rout of Salem International. It was the team’s highest scoring output in more than four years. After the Tigers rallied within 11-7 just after halftime, the Bison rattled off nine straight third-quarter goals to put the game away.

After two more convincing wins over Washington & Jefferson (18-6) and Mercyhurst (14-7), the Bison found themselves in a dogfight against Brown. We trailed 8-6 entering the fourth quarter, but used three timely goals and some stout defense to win it. Tommy Stupp scored the go-ahead goal with 2:31 to play, and then the defense got three late stops to push the team’s record to 6-1 on the season. That is the best seven-game start since 2013. The last one better than that was all the way back in 1979, when the Bison started out 20-0.

Freshman sensation Rade Joksimovic continues to light up the scoreboard. The Serbia native scored 23 goals in the four games over the weekend, giving him 33 already on the season. He had eight goals and six assists in the Salem International game, and he finished the weekend by scoring six of Bucknell’s nine goals in the win over Brown. The NCAA does not compile national scoring leaders for water polo, but Rade’s total has to be up there. Bucknell has not had a 100-goal scorer in a season since Garrin Kapecki in 1987, but Rade is on pace right now.

The Bison head south for three big Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference road games this weekend. First up is Navy on Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Patriot League Network, followed by a pair of Sunday games at George Washington and Johns Hopkins.

Meanwhile, Women’s Soccer continued its best start in school history with a 2-0 win over three-time defending Patriot League champion Boston University on Sunday at Emmitt Field. The Bison are now 7-0-1 on the season and 1-0 in Patriot League play. We are tied for the fifth-longest unbeaten streak in the country right now. There are only eight unbeaten teams left in Division I women’s soccer, and two of them are in the Patriot League (Lehigh is 6-0-1). The other unbeatens are Northwestern (9-0-0), Central Michigan (8-0-0), South Florida (7-0-0), South Carolina (8-0-1), TCU (7-0-1) and Stanford (7-0-1). That’s some pretty good company!

The Boston University game was a thriller. The Bison got an early goal from Maddie Mulford and then held on tight as the Terriers applied waves of pressure throughout the second half. Goalkeeper Jessica Ratner made a number of terrific saves, and then we all took a deep breath when Kendall Ham and Alexis Gannon teamed up to score on a counterattack with 11 seconds remaining.

 

Bucknell had yet to beat Boston U. since the Terriers joined the league three years ago, but the Bison were not alone. The Terriers had been 27-2-4 against Patriot League competition, including postseason action, since joining the league, and this was their first PL loss since Oct. 18, 2014 against Loyola.

Kelly Cook’s team continues to shine at home. The Bison are 10-0-2 in their last 12 games on Emmitt Field, with the last home loss coming against Boston University (2-1) on Nov. 1, 2014. Next up though is a road game at Holy Cross on Saturday.

Men’s Soccer was coming off a tough stretch of five straight games away from home, in which it managed a win and a tie. Finally back at Emmitt on Saturday, the Bison played well in a 1-0 win over a good Fairleigh Dickinson team. After a number of close calls, including a first-half penalty kick that was saved by FDU’s terrific keeper, Ben Derleth punched in a rebound in the 77th minute to win for the Bison. They will have a mid-week road game at Saint Francis (Pa.) before returning home to start Patriot League play against Boston University on Saturday.

Field Hockey grinded out a pair of one-goal wins on back-to-back days this weekend. The Bison opened league play Saturday with a 2-1 victory at Lehigh. We went up 2-0 on a penalty stroke by Anna Wills and a penalty-corner tip by Nicole Rupnik. Lehigh got on the board late, but the Bison were able to avoid any danger in the last few minutes. Yesterday against Quinnipiac in New York City, the Bison used an Estelle Palandjian tying goal inside seven minutes remaining to force overtime, and then Stephanie Dressler scored on a penalty corner in overtime to win it. Stephanie had two goals and an assist in the 3-2 win.

Great job by Women’s Golf to blow away the competition at the Bucknell Invitational over the weekend. It was just a small five-team field, but it was still nice to get a W in just the second tournament under new head coach Lisa Francisco. Lindsay Dodovich shot 72-77 to claim her first career individual title, and six different Bison finished in the top eight. It typically takes scores in the low 300 to contend for the Patriot League titles, so the 309-307 totals this weekend were a good sign.

Men’s Golf placed sixth at the Cornell Invitational. Saturday was an interesting day, as the Bison shot 315 in the morning (not great) and then a 3-over-par 287 in the afternoon (terrific). A 292 on Sunday kept them in sixth place in a 14-team field. Jubal Early was the team’s top player with a T-8th finish, highlighted by a 1-under 70 in round two.

Men’s Tennis had a productive weekend at the Saint Joseph’s Invitational. The highlight was Timber Erskine advancing to the Flight 3 championship.

Three turnovers proved costly in the Football team’s 24-16 loss to Cornell on Saturday evening in the home opener at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The Bison offensive line had a strong game, paving the way for Joey DeFloria to rush for 154 yards while allowing only one sack. QB Matt Muh threw for 215 yards in his first career start, and Will Carter had a big day with nine catches for 122 yards. But after DeFloria snapped a 10-10 tie with a 26-yard TD run on the first possession of the third quarter, the Big Red countered with two straight touchdowns. The Bison could not finish off a pair of long fourth-quarter drives, the first ending with a fumble at the Cornell 16 and the other ending on downs at the Cornell 20.

Despite the loss, it was a great night for a football game. The pregame atmosphere was terrific, with a performance by pop star Jesse McCartney highlighting the university’s Fall Fest celebration. It was also great to welcome back more than 100 Bucknell football alumni, including many members of the 1996 team who were back celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Patriot League championship. We will have more on that team in an upcoming blog.

This week will be keeping an eye on the football squad as it looks to bounce back at home against VMI. Men’s soccer, men’s water polo and volleyball all begin conference play. Cross country is back in action in Virginia. Women’s golf coach Lisa Francisco returns to her alma mater as the Bison compete in Penn State’s tournament. Go Bison!

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