Bucknell vs. Lehigh
April 29, 2011
The Game Story:
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Mired in a 2-2 struggle after a first half dominated by the defenses, 12th-ranked and top-seeded Bucknell exploded for 11 goals in the second half en route to a 13-5 victory over fourth-seeded Lehigh in the second Patriot League Tournament semifinal game Friday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Charlie Streep and Chase Bailey scored three goals apiece for the Bison, who broke the school victory record with win No. 13.

Bucknell (13-3) will face second-seeded Colgate in the championship game on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on the CBS College Sports Network. The Raiders jumped out to a 6-0 lead and held on to beat Army 7-6 in the first semifinal game of the day. Now 8-0 at home, the Bison will be playing in the Patriot League final for the third time in the last four years, but they will be looking to win it for the first time.

When Bucknell met Lehigh (7-9) two weeks ago in Bethlehem, the Bison had to rally from 7-1 down to win 12-11. It appeared they might need another comeback after Lehigh scored just eight seconds into the game, with faceoff man Ryan Snyder feeding David DiMaria for the score. But the Bucknell defense was terrific, allowing just two more goals over the next 55 minutes.

Lehigh's defense was equally stout, and the Bison had managed only a Streep first-quarter goal until the late stages of the half. Trailing 2-1, Streep scored again with a runner from the right side with 38 seconds left, and the teams went to the locker room tied at 2.

Not quite four minutes into the second half Bucknell took the lead for good on a high hard shot from Nick Gantsoudes. The red-hot extra-man unit cashed in soon after when Billy Eisenreich fed Streep for an 18-yard rocket to make it 4-2.

The defining play of the game came at the midway point of the third quarter. Bucknell was riding hard on Lehigh clearing attempts all game, and long pole Jason Neithamer came up with a takeaway near midfield. Neithamer had the ball checked loose, but then defenseman Alex Lyons swooped in for the ground ball, dodged two Mountain Hawks at midfield and started an odd-man rush. Nobody picked up Lyons as he entered the box, and the All-Patriot League defender bounced a shot past Griffin Farha for his first career goal and a 5-2 Bucknell lead.

Lehigh got one back on a tough goal by DiMaria with a defender draped all over him with 2:49 left, ending a 26:48 scoreless drought. But just 1:22 later Bison freshman Todd Heritage returned the favor with an equally impressive individual move to the right of the cage.

Bucknell broke it open with seven goals in the fourth quarter, the first five coming in a span of only 4:54. The best of those came at the 7:56 mark on a re-start behind the Lehigh cage. The Mountain Hawks doubled the ball, and defensive middie Jason Foreit made a nice catch on a lob pass over the double team, then fed Heritage at goal-line extended for an empty netter that made it 8-3.

Leading scorer Ryan Klipstein, who had been held in check for a while, later had a hand in three straight goals with two scores and an assist, and Bailey had all three of his goals plus an assist in the fourth quarter.

Klipstein's unassisted tally capped a 6-0 run and gave Bucknell an 11-3 lead. Lehigh broke another 14-minute drought on a Cameron Lao-Gosney re-directed goal, but then right off the draw Jake Clarke sprinted to the goal and fed Bailey for a layup. Lehigh took a penalty for a late hit, and then on the ensuing draw, Clarke won another one, absorbed a big hit as he entered the box, and then fired home his first goal of the season. It was two goals in nine second for Bucknell, and three goals in 17 seconds between the two teams.