The Bison women’s soccer team has garnered many headlines this year — and rightfully so — as they sit 13-1-2 and one win away from locking up the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. But let’s not forget the men’s side, which is once again making noise in the PL race.
Brendan Nash was just a young pup when he came to Lewisburg as an assistant coach under Hall-of-Famer Craig Reynolds. Now Coach Nash is in his 18th season as head coach and 20th overall in the program, and he has achieved incredible success with the Bison men’s soccer program. Often competing against scholarship programs within his own league, Coach Nash has managed to lead his team to four of the last nine conference titles.
Most coaches detest the term “rebuilding year”, as it implies that you are conceding the championship. But there were clearly some unknowns heading into 2016 for the Bison men’s soccer team following the graduation of a sensational senior class that featured the likes of Chris Thorsheim, Jesse Klug, Patrick Figgie, Connor Willings, Mark Kramarchuk, and the terrific goalkeeper combo of Mike Lansing and Clarke Fox.
This year’s squad started out 2-5-1 heading into Patriot League play, but the Bison have performed well of late in a league with great talent and parity. They are 3-3-1 and tied for fifth place with Lafayette, just one victory out of third place. The three losses have all been by one goal — two coming in overtime — and on Wednesday they used a Sebastiaan Blickman second-half volley to pry away a huge 1-0 road win over Loyola, which had been unbeaten in league play before that.
Blickman, one of eight seniors who will be honored before tomorrow’s regular-season finale against Lehigh, has been a huge part of the team’s success. He has moved his way up the pitch throughout his career, coming in as a defensive midfielder before taking on an attacking midfield role. This year, with the team struggling to find goals from the forward line, Blickman moved all the way up top and has responded with a career-high eight goals. Army’s Rex Epps is the only player in the league with more (9). Five of Blickman’s goals have come in PL play, including a second-half natural hat trick against Colgate.
Fellow senior captains Zack Rockmore and Peter Krebs have shown strong leadership in keeping the team focused despite some rough spells, and they have helped bring along a talented group of newcomers. Freshman Nick King has blossomed, with four goals and a league-high seven assists. Rookies Quinn Bredin, Patrick Mahoney and Bernie Wright have also had some very bright moments, and sophomore keeper Ryan Ott earned a shutout at Loyola in his long-awaited collegiate debut after coming back from injury.
With two games to go, the Bison are in playoff position, and six points could be enough to host a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game. If the Bison can make another run, it just might be Coach Nash’s biggest success story yet.
In advance of tomorrow’s Senior Day, some of the seniors shared what they will remember most about about their time in Orange & Blue:
- Sebastiaan Blickman (Lincoln, Mass.) — Being a student-athlete at Bucknell has been such a rewarding experience for all of us. It’s crazy to think about how we came from all over, places like San Francisco, Ontario, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts and became such a tight-knit family. From playing together every day to hanging out and having meals together and all the other shenanigans we got into, we will cherish these years of memories forever.
- Adam Bradshaw (Waterloo, Ontario) — Being a student-athlete at Bucknell involves a lot of ups and downs, especially in the Patriot League. Going through grueling practices, difficult losses, important wins, and, of course, our 2014 Patriot League Championship, has been a roller coaster to say the least. What I’ll remember most, though, is the daily camaraderie of experiencing it all with such a great group of guys.
- Justin Galiani (Great Falls, Va.) — Being a part of a team that continuously proved to be professionals on the field and clowns off of it. Winning the Patriot League championship and being a part of the NCAA Tournament were incredible moments.
- Andrew Leischner (Scotch Plains, N.J.) — I will remember winning the Patriot League tournament our sophomore year the most. It was truly an unforgettable moment that will give me lasting memories. Other than that moment, the culture of the soccer team, where everyone was accepted and a part of a brotherhood, is something that I will always remember. The friendships and bonds created with my teammates is something that I will never forget.
- Austin Lenart (Mount Laurel, N.J.) — As a student-athlete at Bucknell, there is a high expectation to perform both on and off the field. Coach Nash has continuously stressed the importance of these areas and the ability to maintain an appropriate balance. This team has become like a second family for me, and I know I can always count on them. From early morning lifts to late night study sessions, it can be challenging at times, but we have always been in it together, and I would not have wanted my experience here at Bucknell to go any differently.
- Zack Rockmore (Albany, N.Y.) — As a student-athlete at Bucknell, there is a ton I’m going to miss. But I think what I’ll miss most are just the daily interactions with all my teammates present and past. From the dinners in the Bison, to the practices, to the several other times off the field, there are not many programs quite so tight-knit. It’s a special place, a special family, and I’m going to miss these daily relationships.