A few notebook items on a melancholy Monday. This blog focuses on Bucknell athletics, but we are all sports fans here, which means we endured a difficult day yesterday. First, we awoke to the news of the tragic death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. Later in the day, we learned of the passing of golf legend Arnold Palmer. In the span of just a few hours, we lost one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, and, shockingly, a 24-year-old kid who might have become one someday. Fernandez was already an icon to many, particularly to those in the Cuban community in South Florida.
If you haven’t seen this video of Fernandez being reunited with his grandmother, it’s a must-watch.
Our condolences go out to the Fernandez and Palmer families. It’s been a rough year for losing sports legends. In 2016 we have already mourned the passing of Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe, Pat Summitt and Johan Cruyff. Tonight we’ll be mixing iced tea and lemonade in honor of The King.
Now on to more trivial matters:
- Women’s soccer kept right on rolling over the weekend, blanking Holy Cross 3-0 on Saturday in Worcester. It was the perfect formula for a road win: score early (7th minute), add another before the half, get a third midway through the second half, and keep the clean sheet. Maddie Mulford had a hand in all three goals, scoring the opener and assisting on the next two.
- Women’s soccer is now 8-0-1 on the season (2-0 Patriot League), and is one of just five unbeatens remaining in Division I. The others are Central Michigan (9-0-0), South Florida (8-0-0), South Carolina (10-0-1), and Stanford (8-0-1). Incredibly, the Bison have not lost a regular-season game in more than a full calendar year. The last one came on Sept. 22, 2015, a midweek 2-0 setback at Duquesne. Bucknell is 14-0-3 in regular-season games since then. The only loss, period, in that span came against Boston University in last year’s Patriot League championship game.
- OK, a few more women’s soccer tidbits. The Bison have outscored their opponents 27-3 on the season. We rank fifth nationally in scoring offense at 3.0 goals per game, and fourth nationally in scoring defense with a 0.325 goals-against average. Kendall Ham scored her ninth goal of the year on Saturday, and she is tied for fourth nationally in that category.
- Speaking of winning streaks, men’s water polo has now won seven in a row to improve to 9-1 on the season. The 13th-ranked Bison handled Navy (20-11), No. 16 George Washington (16-11) and Johns Hopkins (12-11), all on the road. Freshman sensation Rade Joksimovic pumped in 17 more goals in the three games, including nine at Navy, giving him an incredible 50 goals in 10 games thus far. That was the seventh-highest single-game goal total in team history and the most ever against Navy. If you want to re-live that incredible performance, you can watch the archive.
- It was another good race for women’s cross country against the most challenging field of the season to date. Despite competing without top runner Kate Scott, the Bison finished seventh at the UVa/Panorama Farms Invitational. The only teams finishing ahead of us were No. 19 BYU, SMU, No. 16 Syracuse, No. 14 Virginia, William & Mary and Coastal Carolina. Christine Bendzinski’s 16th-place finish was very impressive in a field of 126 runners. The men’s cross country team finished eighth in a similarly loaded field in Virginia, backed by a 27th-place finish from Luke Giugliano.
- Football heads into the bye week at 1-3 after a 23-17 triple-overtime loss to VMI. The Bison are left lamenting some missed opportunities in the red zone, and they came away empty on three overtime possessions. Despite the frustrating loss, there were several noteworthy performances in the game. Freshman running back Chad Freshnock ran for 161 yards on 33 carries. Only Hall-of-Famer Richie Lemon has had a bigger day as a freshman. Lemon, of course, ran for 210 yards against Bloomsburg in his very first collegiate game in 1993. Later that year he went for 188 yards against Fordham and 163 against Lehigh.
- Closing in on some history is senior wide receiver Will Carter, who had eight catches for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Keydets. Will now has 18 career TD grabs, which ties Lester Erb and Hall-of-Famer Tom Mitchell for the team record. Mitchell, Class of 1966, is considered one of the top players Bucknell has ever produced on the gridiron — he went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL — and he still holds the school record for receiving yards at 2,358. But Will is closing in fast at 2,322, and his 170 career receptions are also just three shy of Mitchell’s 50-year-old record.
- Men’s soccer played very well, particularly in the first half, in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Boston University, one of the preseason favorites in the Patriot League. Freshman Patrick Mahoney scored his first career goal on a beautiful running header on a corner kick in the first half, but the Terriers tied it up with about 16 minutes remaining. Incredibly, the Bison and Terriers have now played five times since Boston University joined the Patriot League, and all five have gone to overtime. Bucknell is 2-0-3 in those games, including the memorable win in the 2014 championship game.
- Some good performances from tennis and golf, including an E Flight singles win from Max Kane at Navy’s Joe Hunt Invitational, and a third straight top-10 finish for golf’s J.P. Raftery. He was 2-over for 54 holes at George Mason’s Patriot Invitational and now has a 72.0 average on the season.
- Cool story here on Bucknell volleyball’s Jordan Walker and her summer internship in the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
- Hard to believe that head women’s tennis coach Rebecca Helt is in her 20th year at Bucknell.
- This feature on Bison safety Bret Berg examines some of the ingredients for successful player development.
- Offensive lineman Julie’n Davenport talks about playing in front of pro scouts in this feature story and this video from Campus Insiders:
— Campus Insiders (@CampusInsiders) September 26, 2016
Stay tuned for some critical games coming up this week. Women’s soccer has a two-game week against league rivals Lafayette (home Wednesday) and Colgate (away Sunday). Field hockey hosts annual Patriot League power American on Saturday at noon, then welcomes No. 1-ranked Syracuse on Sunday at noon. Men’s soccer makes the long march to Holy Cross Saturday afternoon. Volleyball looks to get on the board in PL play when it visits Lehigh on Friday night before hosting Lafayette on Saturday at 5 p.m. Water polo looks to keep the winning streak going with a pair of road games against Wagner and Fordham on Saturday. And men’s and women’s swimming has its first meet of the year on Saturday at 1 p.m. against UMBC at Kinney Natatorium.