Setting the Scene
What:
Bruno Classic
When: Saturday, Feb. 3 to Sunday, Feb. 4
Where: Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center – Providence, R.I.
Tournament Central: BrownBears.com

Game One: Villanova (0-0, 0-0 MAAC) vs. No. 25 Bucknell (0-0, 0-0 CWPA)
When: Saturday, Feb. 3 – 8 a.m.
Video: Ivy League Network ($)

Game Two: California Baptist (1-4, 0-0 GCC) vs. No. 25 Bucknell (0-0, 0-0 CWPA)
When: Saturday, Feb. 3 – 1:50 p.m.
Video: Ivy League Network ($)

Game Three: McKendree (1-3, 0-0 WWPA) vs. No. 25 Bucknell (0-0, 0-0 CWPA)
When: Saturday, Feb. 3 – 6:30 p.m.
Video: Ivy League Network ($)

Game Four: No. 25 Bucknell (0-0, 0-0 CWPA) vs. No. 15 Wagner (1-3, 0-0 MAAC)
When: Sunday, Feb. 4 – 11 a.m.
Video: Ivy League Network ($)

Bucknell at a Glance
• The Bison are set to open their 2018 campaign at the Bruno Classic. They were slotted in a tie for 25th with Brown in the most recent CWPA poll.
• Bucknell wrapped up 2017 with a 14-18 (2-6 CWPA) record and placed sixth at the CWPA Championship.
• The Bison return three of their top four leading point producers from 2017 in Emily Konishi (41g-55a), Marta Considine (48g-18a) and Colleen Barron (43g-11a). That trio accounted for nearly half of Bucknell’s goal total.
• The Bison need to replace Tegan Stanbach, who placed second on the team in goals (45) and tied for third in points (54) a year ago. Stanbach’s backup Sarah Mooney, who totaled 18 points (10g-8a) in limited playing time, is expected to take on her role. 
• Konishi will look to build on a stellar sophomore season that saw her crack Bucknell’s top 15 in single-season assists (t-4th) and single-season points (11th, 96). With 90 career assists, she also stands in a tie for 12th in school history.
• The Bison also return starting goalkeeper Manuela Herrera, who enters her senior season sixth in school history with 382 career saves. She needs just nine stops to take fifth from Kristen D’Agostino.
• In the CWPA preseason poll, Bucknell was selected to finish sixth. Michigan, Indiana and Hatwick were tabbed as the top three teams.

Villanova at a Glance
• The Wildcats begin their season against the Bison at the Bruno Classic.
• In 2017, Villanova posted a 12-15 (5-9 MAAC) record. The Wildcats failed to qualify for the MAAC Tournament.
• Bucknell leads the all-time series with Villanova, 20-6, and has won the past 18 meetings dating back to 2002.
• The Bison and Wildcats last squared off on Feb. 14, 2016 at the Princeton Invitational, with Bucknell emerging a 9-5 victor.

California Baptist at a Glance
• The Lancers are currently 1-4 on the season and received votes in the most recent CWPA poll. They have competed at the UCSB Women's Winter Invite and the CBU Mini to date.
• In 2017, California Baptist went 17-14 (3-4 GCC).
• While California Baptist leads the all-time series, 10-3, Bucknell's three victories came in their past five meetings.
• The Bison and Lancers last faced off on March 10, 2015 in Riverside, Calif. California Baptist scored an 11-5 win in its home pool.

McKendree at a Glance
• The Bearcats are currently 1-3 on the season, with a 19-0 victory over Saint Louis. They host Lindenwood on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.
• In 2017, its inaugural season, McKendree went 9-16 (7-1 CWPA Midwest). The Bearcats advanced to the CWPA Midwest Division Championship, where they were edged by Grand Valley State by a single goal, 6-5.
• This will be the first meeting between Bucknell and McKendree.

Wagner at a Glance
• The Seahawks are currently 1-3 on the season and ranked No. 15 in the most recent CWPA poll. At the Michigan Invite, they fell to three teams ranked in the top 10: No. 8 Michigan (10-7), No. 9 Pacific (13-11) and No. 2 UCLA (14-7). Their victory came against No. 13 Hartwick (16-14). 
• In 2017, Wagner posted a 26-11 (14-0 MAAC) record. The Seahawks became the first program to win four-straight MAAC championships and scored their first NCAA tournament victory by downing U.C. San Diego, 6-5, in the play-in game. They ultimately fell to No. 1 UCLA, 17-2, in the first round.
• While Bucknell leads the all-time series, 12-6, Wagner's six victories came in their past seven meetings.
• In their last game on Feb. 12, 2017 at the Bison Invitational, the Seahawks dropped the Bison, 14-6.

A Look Ahead
• The Bison host the Bison Invitational on Feb. 10-11. They will take on Gannon (Feb. 10, 11:30 a.m.), Wagner (Feb. 10, 6:30 p.m.) and Siena (Feb. 11, 11 a.m.).

Season Preview

The Bucknell women’s water polo team is primed to have success in 2018. Expectations are high for the Bison, who return the majority of their starting lineup and will play host to April’s CWPA Championship.

“We’re a veteran team,” said head coach John McBride. “We’re getting back the bulk of our starting group, which is always good. They have high expectations for themselves, and they’re excited to have the chance to host the conference championship.”    

Bucknell returns three of its top four leading point producers from a year ago in Emily Konishi (41g-55a), Marta Considine (48g-18a) and Colleen Barron (43g-11a). McBride said the trio, who accounted for nearly half of the Bison’s goals, should be even more effective at generating offense in 2018.

“They have a lot of experience, and they’re motivated to win,” McBride said. “They understand our system, and they’ve played together a lot because they rarely, if ever, sub out. They know where each other is going to be in the pool, and they really mesh well together.”

Konishi, the youngest of the group, enjoyed a stellar sophomore season in 2017, cracking Bucknell’s top 15 in single-season assists (t-4th) and single-season points (11th, 96). With 90 career assists, she stands in a tie for 12th in school history; if she matches her single-season average of 45, she will vault to fourth.  

“Emily has been a very smart and consistent player,” McBride said. “She’ll have a significant impact in dictating our offensive and defensive tactics this year. We expect her to be a leader in the pool even more so than in the past because she’s now an upperclassman. Her leadership will be extremely valuable because of her high water polo IQ.”

Tegan Stanbach was also valuable piece of the Bison’s offense in 2017, finishing second on the team in goals (45) and tied for third in points (54), both career-high totals. With Stanbach, a three-year starter who posted 143 points (99g-44a) in her collegiate career, lost to graduation, McBride expects Sarah Mooney to step up.  

“Tegan was a big presence in the pool, but I feel like Sarah will fill her role,” McBride said. “Sarah gained valuable experience as Tegan’s backup, and I believe she’ll be able to pick up where she left off.”

Defensively, Bucknell will again be led by Manuela Herrera, who started 26 games and made 173 saves in the cage a year ago. Herrera, who already ranks sixth in program history with 382 career stops, is expected to make her senior year her best yet.

“Manuela has been a solid goaltender,” McBride said. “She has all of the skills she needs to be successful. This should be her breakout year, and her teammates always play very confidently when she’s in the cage.”

And Herrera plays with confidence because she knows her teammates have her back. As a team, the Bison have always put defense first. In 2017, they allowed an average of 9.10 goals per game, holding their opponent to five or fewer six times. While Herrera played a large role in their success, reaching the double digits in saves three times, McBride said every player in the pool is expected to contribute defensively.

“We expect everybody to be better on defense than they are on offense,” McBride said. “Everybody is expected to block shots and play defense. It’s an important part of our system, and it leads to wins.”

One challenge the Bison will face this season is they will play the bulk of their schedule away from Kinney Natatorium. In 2017, they hosted nine games during the regular season; that total drops to four in 2018.

“It’s a tough year,” McBride said. “Depending on the CWPA schedule, some years we’re at home a lot and other years we’re away a lot. It’s always difficult to be on the road that much, but, if you’re winning, it’s not that much of a grind. I think it’s good, though, because I like adversity. I like when the team has to play under adverse conditions because I think it builds character. Being on the road a lot is definitely an adverse condition that will hopefully make the team stronger and closer.”

After their long road tour, the Bison will return to Kinney Natatorium for arguably the most important games of their season. Bucknell is set to host the CWPA Championship for the first time since 2014, when its current senior class was in its final year of high school; that tournament is slated for April 27-29.

“You always want to wake up in your own bed and go to the conference championship,” McBride said. “It’s great to host; they have to come to our pool, where we play well because we’re so familiar with it. Especially with the season we have, it’s great to end the year at home. It’ll be nice to finish at home after a long season of travel.”