Philadelphia, PA – The Pennsylvania Quakers improved to 3-3 in dramatic fashion as they defeated the Bucknell Bison, 7-6. For Bucknell, Chris Cara led the way with 2 goals and 2 assists as he improved his total to 42 points in only seven games this season. Matt Baran provided much needed support in the net as he added 14 saves for the Bison. Will Phillips extended his consecutive games scoring streak to 24 games as he added two goals for Penn, as did PJ Gilbert. Zandy Reich chipped in with two assists.
The game started out sloppy as both teams made a few careless mistakes. Eventually Penn would settle down and control the first quarter as PJ Gilbert added his first goal with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter off of a James Riordan feed. Two minutes later, Gilbert would be stuffed point blank by Bucknell’s Baran, but as Baran started to pull it back to cradle, the ball came loose and fell into the net. Gilbert was credited with the goal. As the first period came to an end, Bucknell was playing very sloppy lacrosse: dropping passes, and clearing poorly (credit the Penn ride for the way they hustled all game). Penn also outshot Bucknell 13-4 in the opening stanza, with senior captain Will Phillips having four shots go wide of the net. Had Penn been a little more accurate, this game could have gotten ugly early.
Bucknell almost got onto the scoreboard three and a half minutes into the second. A streaking Bucknell long-pole, Greg Sowyrda, was fed a perfect pass in stride after a Baran save. Sowyrda kept it himself on the fast break and hit the post. Shortly thereafter Penn senior David Delaney came up with a looseball around midfield and started upfield. In transition he placed a pass perfectly to Phillips who gave Penn a 3-0 lead.
Another Bucknell defenseman would get a shot at the goal as senior Blaise Fletcher cleared the ball himself after not being able to find an open man. As he brought it down, he was unable to get a good right handed shot off, but rather than switch hands he flipped it around the goalie from right in front of the crease for the first Bucknell goal. With under four minutes to go in the half Chris Cara showed why he has so many points this year. At the 3:45 mark, Cara drove from X beat his defender top-side and gave Bucknell their second goal. Thirty three seconds later Cara would drive from X beating his defenseman top-side in identical fashion, except this time he fed Patrick Christensen who sent the game tied 3-3 into the half.
Action in the third quarter became a see-saw. Penn scored first as Luke Dixson found Phillips, who beat Baran off-stick side hip. Chris Cara responded for Bucknell off of a nice offensive set with the assist going to John Salvesen. DJ Andrzejewski would put Penn up again. Andrezejewski took his man from the goal-line extended wing, got a step on him underneath then stepped up above the goal line putting the ball into the net unscathed. Not to be outdone, Bucknell would respond as Chris Cara found Steve Case who finished the play with a nice cross-handed shot. It was a tough goal for Penn because senior keeper Ryan Kelly had just made a point blank save, seemingly giving Penn momentum, but Penn was unable to clear the ball. In the transition that followed is where Bucknell tied the game at 5.
Bucknell would get its first and only lead of the night on a man-up goal with 9:50 left in the game. Penn did a nice job of killing the penalty, capped off by a longstick intercepting a questionable skip pass, but as the longstick was trying to clear the ball he was stripped. Bucknell’s Kirk Klett gathered the looseball all alone on the crease and put Bucknell up 6-5.
It would take Penn nearly four minutes to respond as at the six minute mark Zandy Reich found a cutting James Riordan who managed to stick the ball just under the crossbar despite falling towards the cold Franklin Field turf. Penn would get another man-up opportunity with about five minutes remaining in the game. Bucknell’s Baran came up big however. At the 4:30 mark, PJ Gilbert let a laser go that Baran was able to just save with his offstick shoulder. 45 seconds later Baran added another big save.
Despite being shut out to that point on man-up (0-6), Penn capitalized when it counted. With 1:52 to go in the game, freshman David Cornbrooks added his second goal of the season as Penn scored on the man-up advantage. Penn displayed great ball movement on the possession, until finally Andrzejewski fed Cornbrooks who put the lefty shot past Baran.
Senior defenseman Pat Connelly made up for a couple of early mistakes when it mattered most for the Quakers. Chris Cara again tried to drive from X with thirty seconds left, but this time Connelly stripped him and started the ball up the field for Penn. Penn failed on the attempted clear, but Connelly gave the Quakers the ball again as he prevented Cara from receiving a pass with about 15 seconds to go. Bucknell managed to get the ball back again on a failed clear, but Ryan Kelly made a remarkable save as he was sprinting back into the net (he had been out for the clear) and made a diving save with less than 15 seconds on the clock. Bucknell wouldn’t go away quietly. As time expired Brian Gargan blasted a shot past Kelly, however to the dismay of the ecstatic Bucknell bench, it was about a second too late. Penn had escaped with a 7-6 hardfought victory.
Despite the frigid conditions this was a quite entertaining lacrosse game. Bucknell appeared to be a bit sloppy in clearing the ball, however, credit must be given to the Quakers’ attack as they rode hard all night. Baran helped out tremendously for Bucknell with fourteen saves, Ryan Kelly added eight for the Quakers with his last saving the game and this reporter from overtime. In the end, the Quakers seniors stepped up when they needed to, with Connelly and Kelly coming up big in Bucknell’s last minute attempts. Penn outshot Bucknell, 42-20. Joseph Shanagan picked up 5 groundballs for the Quakers, as did Brendan Fitzgibbons and Greg Sowyrda for the Bison.
Penn returns to action again at home this Saturday against Harvard. The Quakers are hoping they can handle the Crimson in a way that doesn’t require last-minute heroics as two home wins have (Villanova with 29 seconds left and this one). Bucknell looks to get to .500 this Saturday against Lehigh in a Patriot League showdown.
|David Andrzejewski||(1, 1)|
|Zandy Reich||(0, 2)|
|James Riordan||(1, 1)|
|Will Phillips||(2, 0)|
|Patrick Gilbert||(2, 0)|
|David Cornbrooks||(1, 0)|
|Luke Dixson||(0, 1)|
|David Delaney||(0, 1)|
|Ryan Kelly||8 (0.571)|