LEWISBURG, Pa. – Nick King finished off a perfect setup from Matt Thorsheim in the 64th minute, and that’s all that goalkeeper Ryan Ott and the Bucknell defense needed in a 1-0 victory over Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sunday evening at Emmitt Field. The Bison bounced back nicely from a 1-0 overtime loss to St. Bonaventure in the season-opener on Friday and improved to 1-1 on the season.
Saint Francis, one of the better teams in the region and a reigning Northeast Conference Tournament finalist, fell to 1-1 on the young campaign. The Red Flash had just pumped in four second half goals in a 4-2 win over Dusquesne on Friday.
Ott, a junior who missed most of last season with an injury, finished with a career-high nine saves in this one. He had two dandies in the second half to help preserve his clean sheet. When a cross from the right side leaked all the way through to Christian Kirchhoff on the left side of the box, Ott came sliding across his goal line to knock the ball away and keep the game scoreless. Then with the Bison nursing the 1-0 lead in the 86th minute, Ott made a diving save to deny Kyle Moerschbacher’s header.
Moerschbacher also hit the left post in the 81st minute, but for the most part the Bucknell defense stood tall despite being outshot 17-6 in the match.
Bucknell had the game’s first legit scoring chance in the 54th minute when King brilliantly sent in Bernie Wright. With a defender trailing, Wright’s shot missed just wide to the right.
But only about 10 minutes later the Bison had the lead in the game and their first goal of 2017. The buildup started with Ben Derleth playing a ball through the legs of a defender down the right sideline. The freshman Thorsheim took the ball into the box and slipped a perfect pass to the sophomore King, who took one touch and then buried the shot for his fifth career goal.
Bucknell successfully defended nine corner kicks and held its own in a physical game that featured a combined 36 fouls.
“We have played two games and have yet to allow a goal in regulation,” head coach Brendan Nash remarked afterward. “I am real happy with the way the defense is playing. We knew that Saint Francis was one of the most challenging teams on our non-conference schedule, so it’s a very good result for our young team. When you are as young as we are, you want a taste of success early in the season. We have a long way to go, but we found some things to build on after the first weekend.”
Bucknell will be off until next Sunday, when it travels to DeLand, Fla., to face Stetson at noon.