EASTON, Pa. – Alexis Gannon and Evelyn Nicinski teamed up for the game’s only goal in the 62nd minute, and Bucknell’s defense took it from there as the Bison held off Lafayette 1-0 at Oaks Stadium on a chilly Wednesday night. The Bison earned three big points in the Patriot League standings, and while they remain in fifth place at 3-3-1, Bucknell is now just three points out of third place and has a four-point cushion for a playoff spot with two regular-season games remaining. The Bison can clinch a Patriot League Tournament berth with a win over Holy Cross on Saturday.
American and Colgate entered the night in a tie for third place with 13 points, but the Eagles and Raiders both lost. Bucknell now has 10 points, and Army leapfrogged both Holy Cross and Lehigh into sixth place with eight points after scoring with five seconds left in double overtime to beat the Crusaders. Lehigh and Holy Cross remain on six points. Despite their losses, American and Colgate both clinched tournament berths. The top six teams qualify.
Bucknell’s Chelsey Garkowski had a goal waved off on an offsides call in the first half, and then Leopards goalkeeper Danielle Sedillo kept it 0-0 when she robbed Nicinski with a diving save. Nicinski made a great play to chest down a crossing pass and then she hammered a volley, but Sedillo was up to the task.
Nicinski got her revenge with 28:55 left in the match. Left back Montana Paley sent a long pass into space down the left sideline. Gannon hustled it down on the end line, cut back into the field and lobbed a pass into the middle of the box. Nicinski was there waiting, and she was able to head the ball out of the reach of Sedillo for her team-leading fourth goal of the season.
For the second straight game, Bucknell head coach Ben Landis split up the goalkeeping duties. Sophomore Jessie Ashworth made one save in the first half, and freshman Jessica Ratner closed out the clean sheet in the second. Ratner was not officially credited with a save, but she made a terrific play going up high to snatch a corner kick out of the air in heavy traffic. Ratner was between the pipes when Bucknell’s goal was scored, and she picked up her first career win.
Bucknell’s back four of Paley, Courtney Nelson, Hannah Bonotto and Lauren Dandie, along with defensive midfielders Devan Schulte and Madison Loos, limited the Leopards (5-9-1, 1-6-0) to just five total shots and one shot on target.
The Bison successfully defended five corner kicks while taking three of their own. Sedillo finished with five saves for Lafayette. Garkowski attempted three of Bucknell’s 10 shots.
Bucknell can lock up a Patriot League Tournament berth when it hosts Holy Cross on Saturday at noon at Emmitt Field. It will also be Senior Day, as Garkowski, Alex Degarmo, Liz Dwornik, Bridget Gilmartin and Corey Tipton will be honored prior to their final regular-season home game.