LEWISBURG, Pa. – Cassie Denger and Corey Tipton scored first-half goals and the Bucknell defense held strong throughout some tense closing minutes as the Bison defeated Loyola Maryland 2-1 in Patriot League women’s soccer action Wednesday night at Emmitt Field at Holmes Stadium. Bucknell improved to 2-1 in conference play and remained just three points off the lead.

Bucknell led 2-0 at the half and was the more dangerous team for most of the night, but a 61st-minute strike from distance by Loyola’s Rosy Hayes made things interesting. The Greyhounds almost had the equalizer moments after the Hayes goal when Nicole Wahlig got plenty of head on a corner kick delivery, but she just put it over the crossbar.   

The Bison weathered that flurry and had numerous chances to go back up by two, but they just missed connecting. Bucknell controlled the right flank all night, and four times in the second half promising crosses came in from the right toward the back post, but each one barely missed its target. Then on a corner kick inside eight minutes to play, Devan Schulte deflected a clearance back toward a gaping net, but Loyola’s Melissa Lookingland was there to boot it off the goal line. Courtney Nelson’s follow-up attempt was blocked aside by keeper Didi Haracic.

The Bucknell defense successfully kept the ball out of harm’s way until a foul near midfield with 90 seconds remaining led to some nervous moments. A Bison defender got a head on the free kick into the penalty area, but it went out for a corner kick. With the clock ticking under 40 seconds, Loyola rushed the corner kick into the box, and the ball sat untouched in the middle of the area for a split second before Nelson cleared it away. The Greyhounds had one last gasp with a long throw-in, but again Nelson was there to steal the ball away and Bucknell was able to close it out.

Denger’s opening goal came in the 16th minute, following some strong play in the midfield by Chelsey Garkowski and Evelyn Nicinski. Garkowski won a 50-50 ball just in front of her own bench, then centered a pass to Nicinski. From her own half, Nicinski’s 50-yard lookahead pass split Loyola’s two center backs, and Denger was waiting on the other side. Denger shielded off one of those defenders and sent a left-footed shot over the charging keeper and into the back of the net for her fifth career goal and first of the season.

Bucknell’s reserves were productive in the latter stages of the first half, and they were rewarded with a big second goal just 3:17 before intermission. Tipton was posted up at the top of the 18, and she one-touched Nelson’s pass between two defenders to a cutting Brigit Falcón. Haracic made the initial save on Falcón but could not control the rebound, and Tipton was there to put it in. It was also Tipton’s first goal of the campaign, giving Bucknell nine different goal-scorers on the year, and the second of her career.

Falcón almost had a goal of her own with 13 minutes left in the half after a nice combo play with Alexis Gannon, but her shot just missed high.

“I was really pleased with the way we started, progressed, adjusted, and then continued,” said head coach Ben Landis. “Our subs did a great job in the first half. We recognize that we have a bunch of different kids who can score. That gives us confidence and makes us a little bit tougher to scout, because we don’t rely solely on one or two people and we can get goals from different places. For Corey and Cassie both to get goals was well-deserved. In the end we are really happy to get the three points.”

Bucknell finished with a 20-11 shot advantage. Haracic logged seven saves for Loyola (1-8-2), while Bucknell (5-6) keeper Jessie Ashworth had four.

This was the first time Bucknell and Loyola have met as conference rivals, and it was also Bucknell’s first win over the Greyhounds in women’s soccer. Loyola now leads the all-time series 2-1-1.

The Bison will be back in action on Saturday at American at noon.