LEWISBURG, Pa. – Now a part of the winningest class in Bucknell women’s soccer history, senior Maddie Mulford ripped home a cross from Meghan Holtz with just 5:10 remaining in regulation, sending the Bison to a critical 2-1 victory over Lehigh on Wednesday night at Emmitt Field.
The Bison showed great resiliency in this one, not only in bouncing back from their first Patriot League loss on Saturday at Colgate, but also summoning an answer just four minutes after Lehigh had tied the game. Now 9-7 overall and 6-1 in the league, Bucknell moved up one spot into second place in the PL table with two games remaining in the regular season.
In an entertaining game with plenty of end-to-end action, it was the Bison striking first in the 19th minute. Holtz, who had a brilliant game in the midfield, received a pass from Gabi Rosenfeld and sent a perfectly weighted, first-touch through ball to Alexandra Catanzarite on the right flank. Catanzarite brought the ball into the box and fired home a shot to the far post for her second goal of the season.
Moments later, Kendall Ham ran onto a long ball from Mulford and got in on a breakaway, but her touch around Lehigh keeper Sam Miller took her a bit wide, and her off-balance shot just missed the near post. Mulford then picked the pocket of a Lehigh back and launched a sharp-angled shot that Miller pounced on.
Lehigh’s best look of the first half came with about 10 minutes remaining, but Rosenfeld lunged to block an Adrian Vitello shot from about 12 yards out.
Still 1-0 past the hour mark, the Bison thought they had doubled their lead. Holtz’s long-range attempt was tipped off the crossbar by Miller. Mulford was there to clean up the rebound, but she was deemed to have been in an offside position and the goal was taken off the board.
The Mountain Hawks (7-4-4, 3-2-2 PL) ramped up their pressure and nearly equalized within a minute of the offside call. A service into the box leaked out to Clare Severe, but Dani Kaufman made the best of her three saves from close range to keep it 1-0.
Lehigh did draw even on a set play in the 81st minute. The Mountain Hawks played a short corner kick out to the left flank, where Annika Jansa got a shot in on goal through heavy traffic. Kaufman made the initial save, but Maggie Wadsworth tapped in the rebound.
Bucknell sent its starting forward unit back on after the goal, and Mulford was on the finishing end of a terrific sequence. Brianna Kropinack found an overlapping Holtz down the right side. Holtz got the ball deep and then squared a pass into the box. Mulford flashed across and one-timed a shot for her fourth goal of the season and 16th of her career.
The Bison saw out the final five minutes with little drama and remained well-positioned to vie for the Patriot League regular-season title.
Navy and Colgate entered a full night of league action tied for the lead with 16 points, with Bucknell one back on 15 points. Navy scored late to defeat Lafayette 1-0, but Colgate settled for a scoreless draw at Holy Cross. The top of the table now features Navy on 19 points, followed by Bucknell (18), Colgate (17), Boston University (16) and Lehigh (11).
The Bison still have to play Boston University at home and Navy on the road to close out the regular season. The Terriers come to Emmitt Field on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Prior to that game the team will honor seniors Carolyn Casey, Karli Cirovski, Jackie Ham, Kendall Ham, Holtz, Mulford and Rosenfeld. With the win over Lehigh, that group became the winningest senior class in Bucknell history. Their 46 career victories are one more than the Class of 2009 and two more than the Classes of 2017 and 2010.