WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Bucknell men's lacrosse team erased a disappointing final week of the regular season and three years of frustration in the Patriot League Tournament all at once by defeating top-seeded Army 8-7 Friday afternoon in a spirited semifinal game at Michie Stadium. Austin Winter (Boonton Twp., N.J./Mountain Lakes) led the offense with a goal and five assists, and backup goalie Matt Antonelli (Arnold, Md./Archbishop Spalding) turned in a terrific 11-save relief stint to help the Bison win a postseason game for the first time in program history.
Fourth-seeded Bucknell will play third-seeded Colgatein the championship on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Michie Stadium. The game will be televised live on CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV). Colgate upset Navy 12-9 in the second semifinal game on Friday night.
The Bison came in with dampened spirits after letting fourth-quarter leads slip away against both Penn State and Colgate last week. The latter loss cost Bucknell the chance to host the Patriot League Tournament, but the 19th-ranked Bison played with renewed energy as an underdog on the road.
The game featured six ties and six lead changes, and the only multi-goal lead of the game came in the second quarter when Army went up 5-3. Bucknell tied it by halftime, then overcame a 7-6 deficit when junior middie Perry Menzies (Upperco, Md./Hereford) scored the tying goal in the final minute of the third quarter and the game-winner with 9:55 remaining.
"I couldn't be more proud of our effort, especially after a very tough week that could have been a big letdown emotionally," said head coach Frank Fedorjaka. "The defining moment was coming back to tie it before halftime, after we had played defense for most of the second quarter. The heat was a factor, and with the way Army plays, the whole game was like a thoroughbred race."
Joe Mele (Westbury, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) had three first-half goals for the Bison, who improved to 10-4 on the season and defeated Army twice in the same campaign for the first time ever.
Bucknell had been 0-3 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament, with all three losses coming by one goal. After Menzies fired a tracer past Adam Fullerton to put his team ahead 8-7 with 9:55 to play, the Bison had to make a number of big defensive stands in order to reverse their tournament fortunes with a one-goal win.
Fullerton, the First Team All-Patriot League goalie, made a spectacular kick save on Mele's point-blank shot with 7:34 left to keep it a one-goal game. Antonelli, who came into the game just 3:43 in after Army scored on its first two shots of the day, made two critical saves on Brooks Korvin late in the game. The first came with 3:29 left, but Bucknell turned it over with 2:15 left.
With 46 seconds left Antonelli made another tough stick save, but the Bison failed to clear. Justin Bokmeyer shot wide twice, the second time with seven seconds left as he tried to bull his way in from the left side of the crease. Defenseman Billy Haire (Darien, Conn./Darien) broke up a centering pass on the restart, and the clock expired.
Both teams scored on their first possessions of the day. In the first meeting between these two teams earlier this month, a 7-4 Bucknell win, Army didn't manage its first goal until the third quarter, but the Black Knights needed only 20 seconds to go up 1-0 in this one. After an extended scramble off the opening faceoff, Roy Ragusa bounced one in just under the cross bar.
Bucknell answered right back when Doug Buckley (Wantagh, N.Y./Chaminade) delivered a nice diagonal crossing pass to Ryan Klipstein (Califon, N.J./Rutgers Prep), who scored from five yards out.
Rob McCallion and Mele traded goals, the latter an extra-man tally off a Winter feed, to make it a 2-2 game after one period.
The Winter-to-Mele combo struck again just nine seconds into the second quarter. Rick Carolan (Wellesley, Mass./St. Sebastians) cleanly won the facecoff and fed Winter, who found Mele alone in front for the point-blank goal.
Army tied it again just over a minute later on McCallion's second goal of the day, off an assist from Jason Peyer.
Later in the second quarter Bucknell's defense came up with two good takeaways, first from freshman defenseman John Collett (Randolph, N.J./Delbarton) then from senior defensive middie Michael Cooke (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul's), but both times the Bison turned the ball right back over, and Army took advantage.
At 7:23 of the second period, Korvin scored to put the Black Knights in front 4-3, and at 5:01 it was Alex Rhoads taking a pass from behind the cage and scoring with a high shot to give Army the game's first two-goal lead.
Winter helped bring the Bison back late in the half as the Bison scored twice in the final 1:18 to tie it. First, Winter made a 1-on-1 move from behind the goal and shot past Fullerton to make it 5-4. Then with 26 seconds left in the half, Winter fed a pass through traffic to Mele, who made a tough catch and scored with a defender draped all over him.
The Bison made it a 3-0 run and a 6-5 lead less than three minutes into the third quarter when Menzies nabbed a ground ball on a rebound, and from his back bounced a pass to Tim Brandau (Owings Mills, Md./McDonogh) for a quick goal from the left of the cage.
Two straight goals by Peyer, the last on a fastbreak after a Bison turnover at the top of the box, put Army back ahead, but Menzies swung the pendulum back in Bucknell's favor with two rockets. The first came with 41 seconds left in the third quarter, and the second made it 8-7 for the Orange & Blue at the 9:55 mark of the fourth. Winter assisted on both, giving him a Patriot League Tournament-record-tying five on the day.
Army outshot Bucknell 38-26 and won a close ground-ball battle, 26-23. There was only one penalty in the entire game, a 30-call on Army that the Bison capitalized on.
Peyer led Army with two goals and two assists, while McCallion also had two goals for the Black Knights (9-5).
Bucknell has now won 10 or more games in a season in consecutive years for the first time in school history. The Bison are also now 4-2 against ranked opponents this season.
|Jason Peyer||(2, 2)|
|Rob Mccallion||(2, 0)|
|Jeremy Boltus||(0, 2)|
|Brooks Korvin||(1, 0)|
|Mike Hanna||(0, 1)|
|Justin Bokmeyer||(0, 1)|
|Alex Rhoads||(1, 0)|
|Roy Ragusa||(1, 0)|
|Adam Fullerton||10 (0.556)|