LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell men’s soccer team opened its preseason training this week, and head coach Brendan Nash was eager to get going with a squad looking to take a step forward in 2017.

“When we go into the season, it’s to try and figure out expectations”, says Nash, who enters his 19th season as men’s soccer head coach. “As we’ve told the guys, it’s all about working hard and that’s the thing the guys knew to bring over the summer. The guys who have been in the program understand how important that is as we try to be successful this season.”

Bucknell graduated eight players from a season ago, including standout midfielder-turned-striker Sebastiaan Blickman (team-high 11 goals in 2016) and defensive anchor Zack Rockmore (First Team All-Patriot League), and the four-time Patriot League Coach of the Year will use the preseason to determine who will fill the voids.

“When you have a strong tradition of a team that expects success, we know it’s the next man up,” said Nash, who will be joined on the sidelines by Ross Liberati, Peter Ellis and Connor Klekota. “You always have to be ready and you never know when your chance is going to come."

Three freshmen cracked the starting lineup in 2016, including Nick King, who finished second on the team in points (15) and was the squad’s top distributer (7), earning Third Team All-Patriot League honors. Patrick Mahoney finished third on the team in points (8) while Quinn Bredin made 18 starts on the back line.

The Bison return three seniors - Dan Bank, Ben Derleth and Jack Zollicoffer. Other veterans returning include Tyler Peterson, Dany Teran, and Ryan Ott, a Patriot League All-Tournament Team selection last season. Peterson and Zollicoffer will co-captain the Bison in 2017.

Bucknell reached the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, falling in double overtime to regular-season champion American by a 2-1 margin.

The Bison will compete in a pair of exhibition contests – Aug. 15 at UMBC and Aug. 20 at Seton Hall – before opening their 2017 slate Aug. 25 against St. Bonaventure at Emmitt Field at 7 p.m. The match will broadcast on the Patriot League Network.