LEWISBURG, Pa. – The No. 12/11 Bucknell men's lacrosse team is set to host Lafayette on Friday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m.
The Bison, who at 5-1 in the Patriot League are tied for second with No. 9/10 Loyola, has clinched a top-four seed in the 2018 tournament. They have one game at hand on league leader No. 18/17 Navy (6-1), which can clinch a share of the regular-season title with a win at Army West Point in its regular-season finale this Saturday, and own the tiebreaker over Loyola, which hosts Boston University this week and Army West Point the next.
With a victory over the Leopards, the Bison will put themselves in position to play for at least a share of the Patriot League regular-season crown during their Senior Night game against rival Lehigh on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Bucknell is also on the cusp of cracking the top 10 in two national polls. After stunning then No. 3 Yale in overtime, and stretching their winning streak to four games with a rout of Mount St. Mary's, the Bison rose to No. 12 in the USILA Coaches' Poll and to No. 11 in the Inside Lacrosse Maverik Media Listing. Since they returned to both polls on March 26, they have climbed four spots in the Coaches' Poll and seven in the Media Listing.
Lafayette (3-10, 0-6 Patriot League) vs. No. 12/11 Bucknell (9-3, 5-1 Patriot League)
When: Friday, April 13 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium – Lewisburg, Pa.
Internet Video: Patriot League Network
Live Stats: BucknellBison.com
Follow on Twitter: @Bucknell_MLAX
Bucknell at a Glance
• The Bucknell men's lacrosse team is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018. Established in 1968, the program has compiled a 369-349 all-time record with Sid Jamieson (1968-2005) and Frank Fedorjaka (2006-present) at the helm.
• The Bison are currently 9-3 (5-1 Patriot League) and have clinched a top-four seed in the Patriot League tournament. This week, they are slotted 12th in the USILA Coaches' Poll and 11th in the Inside Lacrosse Maverik Media Listing.
• One of the hottest teams in college lacrosse, Bucknell has won six of its past seven games, which included three-straight victories over nationally ranked opponents on the road. Over that stretch, the Bison held all but one of their foes under 10 goals.
• In 2017, Bucknell went 5-8 (3-5 Patriot League), coming up a single game short of qualifying for its 11th-straight Patriot League Tournament.
• The Bison, who finished tied for seventh in the Patriot League a year ago, were picked to place fourth in the 2018 preseason poll, as voted on by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.
• Bucknell returns four All-Patriot League selections in Matt Gilray (2nd '17, '16), Christian Klipstein (2nd '17, '16), Sean O'Brien (1st '17) and Will Sands (1st '17, 2nd '16). All four were voted to the 2018 Preseason All-Patriot League team, giving the Bison the league-high total.
• Sands was named to the 2018 Tewaaraton Watch List on March 1. The senior, who was previously recognized on the 2017 list, was one of 50 men's lacrosse players to make this year's iteration. He was also named a Midseason Third Team All-American by Inside Lacrosse on March 29.
• Bucknell's captains are seniors Sands, Gilray, O'Brien and Benny Borgognone.
• Fedorjaka, who is in his 13th season as head coach, owns a 120-73 record. In Patriot League action, he has gone 55-31, leading the Bison to perfect 6-0 records in 2009 and 2011. Bucknell also posted a one-loss Patriot League campaign in 2013.
Inside the Yale Box Score
• Sean O'Brien lifted then No. 14 Bucknell to a 9-8 overtime upset at then No. 3 Yale on April 4.
• With just over a minute remaining in the extra frame, O'Brien deked around his defender and beat Jack Starr five hole to help the Bison snap the Bulldogs' seven-game winning streak and win their third-straight road game over a ranked opponent.
• O'Brien registered five points on four goals and one assist. Not to be outdone, Connor O'Hara set a new career high with six points on four goals and his first two helpers on the 2018 campaign. During the third quarter, O'Hara netted three goals in a three-minute span to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 advantage.
• O'Brien's heroics were set up by Christian Klipstein, who made two crucial saves when the score was knotted at eight apiece. Klipstein finished the night with 11 saves.
• Will Sands added three helpers while Tommy Sopko also found the back of the net. O'Brien, Klipstein and Sopko tied for the team high with three ground balls while Lukas Munoz and Tom Smith each caused a team-best two turnovers.
• Yale was the third-straight ranked opponent Bucknell knocked off on the road. The Bison previously toppled then No. 6 Loyola (12-11) on March 24 and then No. 15/20 Army West Point (10-7) on March 31.
• The Bulldogs were the third top-three foe Bucknell upset with a golden goal. On March 12, 2005, the Bison toppled then No. 2 Navy, 8-7, on a Steve Case strike 51 seconds into overtime; at the time, the Midshipmen, 2004 NCAA finalists, were the highest ranked opponent Bucknell had ever knocked off. The next season, on March 14, Bucknell stunned No. 1 Maryland, 7-6, in double overtime; Joe Mele completed a hat trick with nine seconds left in the second bonus frame to lift the Bison to their first, and only, win over a top team in the country.
Inside the Mount St. Mary's Box Score
• Three days after his golden goal catapulted him in the national spotlight, Sean O'Brien again led Bucknell victory, matching his career high in both points (7) and goals (6) in a 14-9 rout of Mount St. Mary's on April 7.
• Will Sands (4a), Tommy Sopko (3g), Reed Malas (2g-1a) and Connor O'Hara (1g-2a) also had multi-point efforts for the Bison, who netted nine unanswered goals during the first half and twice held double-digit leads.
• The Bucknell defense, which held Mount St. Mary's off the board until the 11:56 mark of the third quarter, had three players register at least four ground balls and four cause at least two turnovers.
• Sands now has 43 assists on the season, a new career high and five shy of Bucknell's school record. His final assist of the contest was the 230th point of his collegiate career.
• O'Brien became the second Bison to eclipse the 30-goal plateau this season, joining O'Hara. Both have a career-best 33 goals, four shy of cracking Bucknell's top 10 in single-season strikes.
• With this victory, the Bison have now won four-straight games and six of their past seven.
Lafayette at a Glance
• Lafayette is currently 3-10 (0-6 Patriot League) and has lost nine of its past 10 games.
• The Leopards, who picked to finish last in the Patriot League preseason poll, are the only team without a league win. In their most recent game, they were edged by Holy Cross, 10-9, on Kevin Kodzis's golden goal 2:51 into overtime.
• Lafayette has averaged just 7.85 goals per game while allowing an average of 13 per contest. Junior attacker Conor Walters has been a bright spot for the Leopards with 43 points (24g-19a) in 13 starts.
• Bucknell leads the all-time series with Lafayette, 43-7, and has won seven-straight games dating back to 2011.
• Last year, Bucknell rode a seven-goal third quarter to a 11-7 victory over Lafayette at Fisher Stadium. Connor O'Hara recorded a natural hat trick in that decisive quarter while Jarett Witzal went 17-for-21 at the face-off x and collected 10 ground balls.
The Bison Big Three
• Will Sands (19g-43a), Connor O'Hara (33g-4a) and Sean O'Brien (33g-3a) have accounted for 135 of Bucknell's 205 points, a percentage of over 65.
• With 43 assists, Sands is the national leader. He is one of only four players who have posted at least 40, along with two Ivy League attackers and Loyola's Pat Spencer.
• O'Hara and O'Brien each eclipsed the 30-goal threshold last week. The only other team that boasts two players with at least 30 goals is Sacred Heart, with Max Tuttle (36) and Joe Saggese (33).
• Last week, O'Brien (10g-2a) and O'Hara (5g-4a) keyed the Bison offense. Sands added seven helpers, all but one of which came on O'Brien or O'Hara strikes.
• For his role in Bucknell's victories over Yale and Mount St. Mary's, O'Brien captured Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week accolades for the second time in his career.
• Sands has already entered the Bison single-season top 10 in both points and assists while O'Hara and O'Brien need four goals to crack Bucknell's top 10 in single-season strikes.
• Beyond the Bison Big Three, only Reed Malas (16g-10a) and Tommy Sopko (20g-4a) have eclipsed the 20-point threshold to date.
Enter Sandsman: Will Sands Among Nation's Elite Attackers
• Will Sands is on pace to have one of the best offensive seasons in Bucknell history. With two games left to play in the regular season, he boasts 62 points (19g-43a).
• With 43 assists, Sands needs just six to claim the school record from David Dickson (2013). A year ago, Sands recorded 42 helpers, which previously stood second in school history.
• Sands has now eclipsed the 60-point threshold in three of his four collegiate seasons. Entering this year, he owned the seventh- (64, 2016) and eighth- (62, 2017) highest point totals in Bucknell's 50-year history. If he posts more than four points against Lafayette, he'll claim sole possession of fourth place in the Bison annals; with four, he'll enter a four-way tie for that spot.
• Sands is currently the national leader in assists and slotted in a tie for fourth in points. A member of the 2018 Tewaaraton Watch List and an Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American, he has factored into 45.9 percent of Bucknell's goals, the fifth-best percentage in the Division I ranks.
• Sands also has a chance to set two Bison career records; he needs 10 assists to set a new standard and 19 points to match Chris Cara's (2002-05) record.
Bison in the NCAA Top 10 (as of April 11)
• Connor O'Hara: Tied for fifth in goals (33)
• Sean O'Brien: Tied for fifth in goals (33)
• Will Sands: First in assists (43)
• Will Sands: Fourth in assists per game (3.58)
• Will Sands: Tied for fourth in points (62) - one of five with 60
• Goals: Sean O'Brien and Connor O'Hara (33)
• Assists: Will Sands (43) - NCAA leader, only Bison above 15
• Points: Will Sands (62) - only Bison above 40
• Shots: Sean O'Brien (114) - only Bison above 75
• Ground balls: Jarett Witzal (38)
• Caused turnovers: Lukas Munoz (17)
• Face-off wins: Jarett Witzal (116)
• Face-off percentage: Jarett Witzal (.451)
• Save Percentage: Christian Klipstein (.500)
• Goals Against Average: Christian Klipstein (9.27)
• Saves: Christian Klipstein (93)
Single-Season Milestones Met Last Week
• Sean O'Brien: Cracked Bucknell's top five in shots; now stands third with 114
• Will Sands: Vaulted to second in assists; now has 43, one more than his 2017 total which previously held second
• Will Sands: Entered tie for eighth in points; now has 62, equaling his 2017 total and two shy of his 2016 mark
• Jarett Witzal: Cracked Bucknell's top five in face-off attempts for second time; now has 257
Single-Season Milestone Watch
• Sean O'Brien: Needs four goals to crack Bucknell's top 10 with 37
• Sean O'Brien: Needs eight shots to move to second with 122; needs 10 to break school record with 124
• Connor O'Hara: Needs four goals to crack Bucknell's top 10 with 37
• Will Sands: Needs six assists to break Bucknell's school record with 49
• Will Sands: Needs two points to move to seventh with 64; needs four to enter four-way tie for fourth with 66; needs 14 to vault to third with 76
• Jarett Witzal: Needs two face-off attempts to move to fourth with 259; needs 20 face-off attempt to enter tie for third with 277, his 2016 total
• Jarett Witzal: Needs 14 face-off wins to crack Bucknell's top five for third time with 130
Career Milestones Met Last Week
• Matt Gilray: Entered tie for eighth in ground balls; now has 146
• Christian Klipstein: Cracked Bucknell's top 10 in saves; now has 391, which stands ninth
• Sean O'Brien: Cracked Bucknell’s top five in shots; now has 283
• Will Sands: Became the second Bison to record at least 230 points in his collegiate career
• Jarett Witzal: Claimed school record in face-off attempts from Jake Clarke (750); now has 771
Career Milestone Watch
• Matt Gilray: Needs six ground balls to move to seventh with 152
• Christian Klipstein: Needs nine saves to become the ninth Bison with at least 400 in his career
• Christian Klipstein: Needs 31 saves to vault to seventh with 431
• Sean O'Brien: Needs 23 shots to enter tie for fourth with 306
• Will Sands: Needs two goals to enter tie for fifth with 103; needs 10 to enter tie for fourth with 111
• Will Sands: Needs three assists to move to third with 132; needs nine to match Bucknell's school record of 138
• Will Sands: Needs 19 points to match Bucknell's school record of 249
• Will Sands: Needs 24 shots to enter tie for fourth with 306
• Jarett Witzal: Needs two ground balls to move to fourth with 166; needs 11 to climb to third with 175
• Jarett Witzal: Needs six face-off wins to claim the school record from Jake Clarke (422)
A Look Ahead
• The Bison wrap up the regular season by hosting rival Lehigh on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. Before the game, they will recognize their 12-man senior class: Benny Borgognone, Matt Gilray, Sam Hahn, Joe Kazar, Matt Linden, Brac McKee, Lukas Munoz, Sean O'Brien, Connor O'Hara, John Reed, Duke Repko and Will Sands.