LEWISBURG, Pa. – Sean Doyle scored four goals and the Bucknell defense returned to form in a 9-6 victory over Navy in the Patriot League opener for both teams on Saturday at sunny and mild Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Thomas Flibotte also scored twice, including a momentum-building buzzer beater just before halftime, to help the 20th-ranked Bison defeat the Midshipmen for the fourth straight time.
Bucknell bounced back well from a 12-9 loss at Bryant last week and are now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the Patriot League. Todd Heritage and Alex Ryan both added a goal and an assist, and Sam Grinberg made three of his nine saves in the fourth quarter to help the Bison rally from an early two-goal deficit.
Austin Heneveld and Erik Hoffstadt scored first-quarter goals to stake the Midshipmen (1-2, 0-1) to a 2-0 lead. But the Bison flipped the game around by outscoring Navy 4-0 in the second stanza. Flibotte broke the ice when he whipped in a lefty bullet from the left wing 1:34 into the quarter. Just over three minutes later the Bison tied it when Doyle plucked a ground ball out of a heavy scrum, then scored with a diving shot in front of the crease.
Long-stick midfielder Alex Spring set the go-ahead goal in motion when he checked the ball away from a Navy attacker, picked up the ground ball and started a fastbreak the other way. Spring ran the ball over midfield and passed to Sam McDonough, who then found Doyle for an open shot from 15 yards out and a 3-2 Bison lead.
A loose-ball push called against Navy gave Bucknell a chance at a final shot with four seconds to play in the first half. After a timeout, Flibotte beat his man from the top of the box and scored on the run down the right seam to make it 4-2 at the break.
Navy twice pulled back within a single goal in the third period, but Kyle Shanahan and Doyle had answers for the Bison on both occasions. Doyle picked up his hat trick off an assist from defensive middie Zach Henkaus with 9:24 left in the period, and the Bison led 6-4 after three.
Bucknell went up by three for the first time 4:37 into the fourth quarter on Todd Heritage’s 99th career goal. Ryan, a junior attackman seeing his first extensive action, sent the ball toward the goal, and Heritage picked it up on a bounce and scored from close range.
After Gabe Voumard made it 7-5, Grinberg made a big save, and then Ryan scored his first career goal to restore the margin to three. It was a terrific goal as well, as Ryan was isolated one-on-one against a short-stick defender, and veering away from goal he fired a low-to-high laser past John Conners for an 8-5 lead.
Doyle made it 9-5 when he scored just before absorbing a hard hit with 2:06 to play, with Heritage earning the assist. Tucker Hull tallied the only man-up goal of the day for either side with 1:18 to play to finish the scoring. Grinberg was needed for one more save to close it out.
Bucknell outshot Navy 41-28, even though the Midshipmen had a 12-6 lead in faceoffs and a 22-20 edge in ground balls. The Bison defense was stellar, particularly on Navy scoring leader Sam Jones, who came into the game with 14 points (seven goals and seven assists) in two games. Jones, who had a 10-point game in a win over VMI, was held without a point on just two shots by preseason All-American Jackson Place and the Bucknell long-pole unit.
Bucknell committed six turnovers in the first quarter but then had only six more the rest of the way. The Bison were also 18-for-18 on clears, making them 59-for-60 on the season.
“This is a good Navy team, and we are really excited to get the win,” said head coach Frank Fedorjaka afterward. “We had a lot of unforced errors early in the game, but we settled down and had a good second quarter. Sean Doyle played much more aggressively. We played David Dickson at midfield today, which meant Doyle was behind the goal alone, and he won his matchup. Flibotte’s goal just before halftime was a huge momentum boost. To stretch the lead to two felt like we were in the driver’s seat for the first time. Any win in the Patriot League is huge. We just have to take them one game at a time, and now we will get ready to go up to Hamilton to play Colgate next week.”Bucknell and Colgate will play next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Hamilton, N.Y., and the contest will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network.