LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell field hockey team clinched a berth in the Patriot League Tournament on Saturday, playing to a 7-0 win over Holy Cross on Graham Field. The Bison earned their first shutout of the season with impenetrable defense and persistent offense, holding the Crusaders scoreless for the fifth consecutive season. The win lifts Bucknell to a perfect 4-0 mark in Patriot League action for the first time in the program’s history and also improves the team’s overall record to 7-5. Holy Cross falls to 3-9 overall and 0-3 in conference play with the loss.
“It is difficult to get a win in the Patriot League,” said head coach Jeremy Cook. “Any team can win on any day. We’ve played Holy Cross really well at home in the last few years, so it’s nice to get such a great win here in front of our fans.”
Four different Bison found the back of the net over the course of the afternoon, with sophomore Abby Watson recording her first career hat trick and freshman Amy Mucelli connecting on her first career goal. Bucknell outshot Holy Cross 23-1 in the contest, a true testament to the united team effort.
Bucknell put offensive pressure on Holy Cross from the very first whistle, recording the first shot on goal one minute in and adding four more in quick succession. Senior Rachel Misko was the first Bison to find the back of the net, scoring her seventh goal of the season and the eventual game-winner at 12:59 in the first half. Junior Amie Pritchard began play, bringing the ball down the right from midfield and sending it into the circle. Misko triumphed in a scramble for the ball, shooting into the lower left corner of the net to put Bucknell up 1-0.
Mucelli added to the Bison advantage at 20:19, capitalizing on play after a penalty corner to record her first career goal. Junior Liz Wills took the initial shot from the top of the circle after the corner, and Mucelli was waiting to redirect it into the net, giving Bucknell a 2-0 lead.
As the defense continued to smother all of the Crusaders’ attempts to move the ball down the field, Watson capitalized on her first opportunity of the game at 22:49, registering her fourth goal of the season with a strong shot through traffic from the top of the circle. The Bison would preserve their advantage as the clock wound down in the first, heading into halftime with a 3-0 lead.
Bucknell’s defense continued to create opportunities for its offense throughout the second, with the Bison’s fourth goal coming just over five minutes in. A seamlessly executed play off of a penalty corner at 5:07 gave Wills her second goal of the season, with junior Kelsey Mucelli and Pritchard earning assists on the tally.
Watson added back-to-back tallies in a span of three minutes to complete her hat trick, scoring the first at 12:07. Misko brought the ball down from the midfield, sending it into the circle to sophomore Kiersten Sydnor. Watson was waiting in front of the cage, collecting the pass from Sydnor and putting it away. At 15:02 Watson completed her dominant offensive outing, connecting on a pass from senior Leigh Hillman to give the Bison a 6-0 lead over the Crusaders.
Holy Cross notched its lone shot on goal in the final ten minutes of the contest, with sophomore Shannon Keen making the save for Bucknell, but it was the Bison who scored in the final minutes of play, sealing a 7-0 with 1:06 left to play in the game. Senior Vickie Resh dribbled the ball all the way around the circle, sending it in to a waiting Misko who shot into the bottom left corner of the net for her second goal of the game and eighth of the season.
Keen and senior Erica Perrine combined for the shutout, while Holy Cross’s Kat Matchett and Maya Langman split time in the cage for the Crusaders, making 10 total saves. Bucknell earned all ten of the game’s penalty corners, as the team’s precise defense left Holy Cross without an opportunity.
“Everyone was great today,” added Cook. “I thought our midfield worked really hard and we were putting tons of defensive pressure on Holy Cross. It was the defensive pressure that we produced that created all of the offensive opportunities for our team. I was very happy with that, as well as our ability to move the ball and possess it.”
Bucknell remains tied for first in the Patriot League with Saturday’s win, as American defeated Lafayette and also has a 4-0 conference record. Both teams secured their spots in the 2013 Patriot League Tournament, leaving just two berths remaining with three weeks left to play.
The Bison return to action on Sunday, welcoming No. 8 Penn State to Graham Field for a 1:00 p.m. non-league match-up.