Setting the Scene
Who: Bucknell (12-8-0, 7-2-0 PL) vs. #2 seed West Virginia (15-3-2, 7-1-1)
When: Saturday, Nov. 11, 1 p.m.
Where: Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va.
Live Webstream: WVUSports.com
Live Stats: WVUSports.com
About the Bison
• Bucknell is back in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row and for the fourth time in program history, taking on sevent-ranked and No. 2 seed West Virginia.
• The Bison were the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament after finishing 7-2 in league play. They knocked off third-seeded Boston University 1-0 in the semifinals on an 87th-minute goal by freshman Alexandra Catanzarite, and then senior Kendall Ham dropped a hat trick in the first 21 minutes of play to lead Bucknell to a 3-2 win over top-seeded Navy in the title match. The Bison are led by their seven seniors, who comprise the winningest class in team history. Five of the seven are All-Patriot League performers and four of them have made three all-conference teams.
• The Bison are making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and the first against a team other than Penn State. In previous NCAA visits, the Bison fell to the Nittany Lions 3-1 in 2001, 6-0 in 2005, and 6-0 last season. Bucknell’s only NCAA Tournament goal was scored by Savannah Rennels in 2001. It tied the game at 1-1, but Penn State scored two late goals to claim the 3-1 win.
• Bucknell and West Virginia are in the Palo Alto region of the NCAA Tournament bracket, headed by No. 1 seed Stanford. The Bucknell-WVU winner will get the winner of Rutgers and La Salle in the second round.
• After cruising to Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles a year ago, Bucknell’s path to the 2017 title was a bit more arduous. As the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, the Bison had to travel to Annapolis, Maryland and get by Colgate 1-0 in the semifinals before toppling top-seeded Navy on its home field 3-2 on Sunday.
• In the Friday night semifinal, Catanzarite scored a brilliant goal in the 87th minute to give the Bison the victory. Off a throw-in, she chipped the ball over the head of a defender, caught up to it on the other side, then beat another defender in the box before slotting home a shot inside the near post.
• The championship game was the Kendall Ham show. She scored three goals in the first 21:05 of the match to get the Bison out to a stunning 3-0 lead. Navy battled back with a pair of goals, but the defense shut the door even as the Mids sent waves of pressure looking for the equalizer. Ham’s hat trick was the fourth in the history of the Patriot League Tournament and second in a final.
• Bucknell was making its 20th Patriot League Tournament appearance in the 28-year history of the Patriot League. The Bison are 10-14-3 in PL Tournament games and have captured the title four times (2001, 2005, 2016, 2017). Bucknell made its sixth trip to the final and third in a row. Bucknell defeated Boston University 2-1 in overtime in the 2016 championship game. Cora Climo scored the golden goal, assisted by Jackie Ham.
• The Oct. 18 victory over Lehigh made the current seniors the winningest class in program history. The group of Carolyn Casey, Karli Cirovski, Jackie Ham, Kendall Ham, Meghan Holtz, Maddie Mulford and Gabi Rosenfeld now has 49 career victories. The Class of 2009 held the previous mark with 45, while the Classes of 2017 and 2010 both won 44 games. This class has a combined record of 49-25-7 and a Patriot League mark of 25-8-3. They qualified for the postseason all four years, made it to three PL finals, won a regular-season and two tournament championships, and made it to two NCAA Tournaments. Five of the seven members of the class have combined for 13 All-Patriot League citations.
• Senior Kendall Ham is another in a long line of high-scoring forwards for the Bison. She will graduate as one of the top scorers in team history. Ham currently ranks tied for first in the Patriot League in points (27) and second in the league and 25th nationally in goals (12). All 12 of Ham’s goals have come against league opponents. She is on her way to leading the Bison in scoring for the fourth year in a row. Ham’s 41 career goals are seventh-most among all active Division I players. West Virginia’s Michaela Abam ranks eighth on that list with 40. This season Ham was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy (national player of the year) Watch List and to Top Drawer Soccer’s Midseason Top-100 Players List (No. 80). Ham last season became the first All-American (NSCAA Third Team) in Bucknell women’s soccer history. In addition to her on-field prowess, Ham is also the 2016 and 2017 Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She was also a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American and an NSCAA Scholar All-American in 2016, and she made the Academic All-District 2 Team earlier this week.
• Seniors Kendall Ham and Jackie Ham are identical twin sisters. Both typically play on the left side of the field, Kendall at forward and Jackie in the back. Both were First Team All-Patriot League, Academic All-Patriot League, and CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 selections this year. Kendall has a 3.88 GPA in biology, while Jackie has a 3.93 GPA in accounting and financial management. The Ham sisters have scored goals in the same game three times in their Bucknell career, including earlier this season at Loyola.
• Bison head coach Kelly Cook is in her third season at Bucknell. Cook is now 39-16-5 overall and 21-4-2 in Patriot League games with the Bison. Cook was named Patriot League Coach of the Year in each of her first two seasons as a head coach in 2015 and 2016. She led the Bison to the Patriot League title in her second and third years. Cook was no stranger to the Patriot League when she was hired at Bucknell. She was a two-year captain and three-time Second Team All-Patriot League selection at Colgate, where she recorded 27 goals and 23 assists in her career. She graduated ranked in the top 10 in program history in career points (77) and assists. As a junior in 2004, Cook was named Patriot League Tournament MVP after leading the Raiders to the league title, and then her team knocked off Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, marking the first NCAA win in school and league history.
• Bucknell took on one of the most challenging non-league schedules in program history this season. Here is a breakdown:• 8/18 — 2-0 home loss to Syracuse (finished 7-8-3, with two ties and six losses vs. ranked opponents)
- • 8/20 — 3-2 home loss to Saint Joseph’s (18-2-2 last season, 11-6-3 this year)
• 8/25 — 2-0 loss at No. 12 Duke (now 19-2-0; No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament)
• 8/27 — 3-1 loss at William & Mary (8-10-2 , lost in CAA semis)
• 9/3 — 2-1 OT win at Rider (4-3-3 in MAAC, lost in MAAC quarters)
• 9/7 — 1-0 home loss to Tennessee (now 14-4-1, ranked No. 18 nationally, NCAA at-large berth)
• 9/20 — 4-0 home win over Saint Francis (Pa.) (NEC champs in 2016 & 2017, open NCAA Tournament at Virginia Saturday night)
• 10/3 — 4-0 home loss vs. No. 14 Princeton (13-2-0 overall, now ranked No. 13, Ivy League champion, hosts Monmouth Friday in NCAA Tournament)
• Bucknell has gotten excellent scoring balance. The team’s 35 goals have been scored by 13 different players, and 17 Bison have recorded a point.
• Earlier this month the Bison saw their six-game shutout streak come to an end with a 4-0 loss to Princeton. The six consecutive shutouts tied the team record set in 2015, but that run started with a 0-0 tie at Navy. So this year’s six straight shutout victories established a new school record. The scoreless string reached 578:25 scoreless minutes, which ended up a bit shy of the 2015 record of 655:03.
• Goalkeeper Dani Kaufman led the Patriot League in saves per game (5.3) while ranking No. 4 in save percentage (.813). She had started every game before suffering a foot injury late in the first half of the Patriot League Tournament semifinal. Theresa Adu-Attobrah played the second half of that game and the full 90 in the final against Navy. The back four of (L-R) Jackie Ham, Maddie Dano, Karli Cirovski and Ali Russo have started every game.
• Jackie Ham, Kendall Ham and Meghan Holtz became Bucknell’s 10th, 11th and 12th three-time All-Patriot League selections. Holtz joined her older sister Caitlin (2008-10) on the list, making for a combined 12 All-PL certificates from the Ham and Holtz families.
• Bucknell set team records in wins (16), league wins (8) and win percentage (.850) in 2016, while posting a program-record 14-game unbeaten streak. The Bison brought back 45 of their 51 goals a season ago, including eight of their top 10 scorers. Bucknell returned seven starters, five of whom made All-Patriot League Teams in 2016.
Record Book Watch
• Kendall Ham ranks third on Bucknell's career points chart with 94. Next up is Liz Woodrow in second with 100 points.
• Kendall Ham is second all-time in goals with 41. Hall-of-Famer Lisa Gibbons holds the school record with 66.
• Kendall Ham ranks seventh among all active Division I players with 41 career goals. Alabama State's Ariela Lewis is No. 1 with 57.
• Maddie Mulford is tied for fifth (with Kerry McDonnell) on Bucknell's career assists list with 16. She needs one more to match Caitlin Holtz, the older sister of Meghan Holtz, for the No. 4 spot.
Scouting West Virginia/Series History
• West Virginia began this season as the No. 1 team in the country after losing to USC 3-1 in the 2016 NCAA College Cup Final. The Mountaineers returned nine starters and 85 percent of its goal-scoring from that squad. They are 4-3 against nationally ranked opponents, including a 2-1 win over Penn State in September when the Nittany Lions were ranked No. 1 nationally.
• Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium has been a hornet’s nest for visiting teams. WVU is 127-20-15 in the facility since it opened in 2004.
• The Mountaineers were beaten by TCU in penalty kicks in the Big 12 semifinals in Kansas City last Friday. That officially goes in the books as a draw, so West Virginia will bring a nine-game unbeaten streak (7-0-2) into the NCAA Tournament.
• First Team All-Big 12 forward Michaela Abam has a team-high eight goals for the Mountaineers, who have outscored opponents 36-13 in 20 games this season. Senior Amandine Pierre-Louis was named the Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
• The winner advances to the second round to face either Rutgers or La Salle.