LEWISBURG, Pa. -- The Bucknell women's lacrosse team faces one of its most important games in several years on Wednesday when it travels to Lafayette for a key Patriot League encounter at 7:30 p.m. at Fisher Stadium. Both teams are fighting for a Patriot League Tournament berth, and the game can be seen live online on the Patriot League Network.
The Bison have won three straight games after starting the season 0-10. Two of those wins were against Patriot League foes American and Holy Cross, and at 2-4 in conference play Bucknell enters Wednesday's action in seventh place, a half-game behind sixth-place Colgate (2-3) and one game behind fifth-place Holy Cross (3-3). Lafayette is in eighth place at 1-5. The top six teams qualify for the postseason.
Bucknell has Lafayette and Boston University (4-1) remaining on its league schedule. Loyola is the only team to have clinched a tournament bid so far. The 5-0 Greyhounds are one game ahead of Boston University and Navy.
Bucknell's three-game winning streak has coincided with increased offensive roles for senior Lindsey Ferro and junior Claire Switala. Over the last three contests Ferro has one goal and 11 assists, and Switala has seven goals on just 11 shots. All-star middie Katelyn Miller has also enjoyed an offensive resurgence. This week's Patriot League Midfielder of the Week matched her career high with six goals in a non-league win over Howard last Tuesday, and then she had three goals and two assists in the 8-7 victory over Holy Cross on Senior Day over the weekend.
Miller has regained the team scoring lead with 26 points on 19 goals and seven assists, and she also leads the team in ground balls (29) and caused turnovers (29). Miller ranks 10th nationally and third in the Patriot League in caused turnovers per game at 2.23.
Caroline Collins leads the team with 40 draw controls, which is the fourth-highest total in the league.
Freshman goalie Elizabeth Duswalt has also played a major role in the team's recent hot streak. Both league victories came by a single goal, and in both contests Duswalt made saves in the final seconds to preserve the lead. Against Holy Cross she tallied nine saves, including six in the second half, in one of her best outings of the season.
That defensive corps will have to be at its very best against a Lafayette team that averages 10.1 goals per game. The Leopards (5-9) feature one of the league's best all-around players in Ana White, who leads the league with 34 caused turnovers and ranks No. 2 in draw controls with 75. White also has 29 goals and 10 assists.
Laura Kleiber is the team's top point-producer with 35 goals and seven assists for 42 points. Kirsten Wilhelmsen (25-3-28), Charlotte Avallone (19-2-21) and Amanda Case (16-2-18) are Lafayette's other top scorers. Meghan Curtin has played every second in goal for the Leopards, and she has a .358 save percentage and a 10.35 goals-against average while averaging 5.9 saves per game.
Three of Lafayette's five Patriot League losses have been one-goal games (Lehigh, Holy Cross, Boston University), and the Leopards' first league win game in overtime (15-13) at American this past Saturday.
Lafayette leads the all-time series 30-5, including four straight wins. The Bison have won five of the last 10 meetings, however, after the Leopards claimed the first 25 in a row.
Last season at Graham Field, Kleiber scored five goals and White and Addie Godfrey added three each to lead Lafayette to a 13-8 win over Bucknell. Miller scored twice for the Bison.
Following the Lafayette game, Bucknell will play twice more in the regular season, at Saint Francis (Pa.) on Apr. 15 and at Boston University on Apr. 19. The Patriot League Tournament starts on Apr. 22 with the quarterfinal round.