LEWISBURG, Pa. --†The Bucknell men's soccer team is aiming to accomplish something that no Patriot League team has managed to do all year: beat the Navy Midshipmen. On the other hand, Navy is also trying to achieve a first: beat the Bison when they are playing on the road.†
After running through the regular season 9-0-0 in conference play, the Mids are the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and will host the fourth-seeded Bison in a semifinal matchup on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility. No. 2 Army and No. 3 Holy Cross will clash in the other semifinal at 7:30 p.m., with the winners meeting in the championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games from Annapolis will be webcast live on the Patriot League Network.
Bucknell is still alive in the postseason after toppling fifth-seeded American 3-1 in a testy quarterfinal skirmish on Tuesday at Emmitt Field. Jonathan Grad, Chris Thorsheim and Jesse Klug scored the goals, and Mike Lansing made two key saves to help the Bison win their fifth game in a row.
Now 13-5-1 on the season, Bucknell has matched the 2002 squad for the second-most victories in program history. The Bison are 8-0-1 on the road this season, outscoring foes 15-1 in those games. The lone away blemish was a 1-1 draw at American on Oct. 12.
Bucknell has an 11-2 goal differential during this current five-game winning streak. Klug, Thorsheim and Grad have been the offensive catalysts during this recent surge. Thorsheim has a goal in three straight games -- all three are game-winning goals -- to give him eight on the year. Klug's final-minute clincher against American was his 10th of the campaign, and Klug and Thorsheim rank second and fourth, respectively, in the Patriot League scoring race.
Grad notched the all-important opening goal on Tuesday, and all three of his goals this season have come in the last five games. Bucknell has now outscored its opponents 30-14 and outshot them 283-213 this season.
The Bison will get central defender Connor Willings back from his one-game red-card hiatus. Brian Ward, who has played outside back and defensive center mid this season, filled in capably at center back alongside Mayowa Alli in the win over American.
This will be a matchup of the league's two highest-scoring teams. Navy has 30 goals in 18 matches this season, while Bucknell has 30 in 19. Slotted just between Klug and Thorsheim on the Patriot League scoring ladder is Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Jamie Dubyoski, who has nine goals for the Midshipmen. Navy also boasts the league's Defensive Player of the Year in Joseph Greenspan and the Coach of the Year in Dave Brandt. The Mids earned a league-high eight all-conference selections.
Navy is currently ranked No. 21 in the Top Drawer Soccer national poll and No. 30 in the College Soccer News poll. The Mids are receiving votes in the NSCAA Top 25 poll.†Navy has the nation's longest active winning streak at 12 straight games. The 12-straight wins are the most for Navy since winning 25 in a row during the 1964-65 seasons. That streak encompassed Navy's 1964 NCAA Championship and the 25-game winning streak is the longest such streak in NCAA history.
Bucknell is ranked 10th in the latest NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Rankings, while Navy is fourth.
These two teams met in Lewisburg on Oct. 19, and Navy scored twice in the second half to rally for a 2-1 victory. Freshman Austin Lenart scored on a howitzer from long range just 5:15 into the match to put the Bison in front, but Derek Vogel and Dave Arnold found the net in the second half for Navy.†
That result ended Bucknell's 11-game unbeaten streak against the Midshipmen. Navy had last defeated Bucknell in 2001 (2-1 OT), and the Mids' last victory in Lewisburg came back in 1998 (2-0). Including Navy's October win, Bucknell is 9-1-2 in the last 12 meetings, but†Navy leads the all-time series 24-10-3 dating back to 1930.