LEWISBURG, Pa. – Tommy Stupp’s six-on-five goal with 2:31 to play in the fourth quarter staked the No. 15 Bucknell men’s water polo team to a one-goal lead and the Bison held on to defeat No. 14 Brown 9-8 Sunday morning at Kinney Natatorium to complete the Bison Invitational with a perfect 4-0 record. Rade Joksimovic led Bucknell with six goals and one assist as he tallied 23 goals over the weekend.
The Bison are 6-1 for the first time since 2013 and now have two one-goal wins over ranked opponents this season. Bucknell has won three of the last four meetings against Brown (6-5) with all three victories coming by one goal.
After winning its first three games of the weekend by a total of 35 goals, Bucknell was in a close one against the Bears. In fact, the Bison never led until Stupp’s game-winner – his second goal of the game. Bucknell outscored Brown 3-0 in the fourth quarter to erase a two-goal deficit entering the final period.
Following Stupp’s go-ahead goal, the Bison defense shined, stopping Brown on three straight possessions in the closing minutes. Nate Hunter had a steal with just over two minutes to play, while Ratimir Babic and Stupp registered field blocks. Stupp’s block of Will Collier’s shot clinched the victory for Bucknell, which ran out the final 20 seconds on offense.
Joksimovic was once again a key player for the Bison as he totaled six steals, one ejection drawn and one assist to go along with his six goals. He scored on two five-meter penalty shots, including the game-tying one with 4:24 to play. Joksimovic now has a team-high 33 goals on the season.
A goal by Joksimovic with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter brought Bucknell to within 6-5 at the half. The Bison then thwarted a Brown six-on-four opportunity on the first possession of the second half. A Jokksimovic penalty shot goal with 4:17 left in the third period tied the score (6-6) for the first time.
It took Bucknell nearly nine minutes to get on the scoreboard as the Bears scored the game’s first three goals.
After allowing six goals in the first half, Bison goalie Charlie Niehaus was strong in the second half, yielding just two scores. He totaled six saves.
Bucknell’s fourth-quarter comeback was even more impressive given the fact that starter Marko Djordjevic fouled out in the third quarter and did not play at all in the final period.
Hunter and Jeff Hagen combined to draw eight ejections for the Bison, who scored five of their nine goals following Brown infractions.
The Bears were led by two goals apiece from Tyler Kirchberg and Jake Wyatt.
Bucknell will open Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference play next weekend when it plays at Navy (Saturday), George Washington (Sunday) and Johns Hopkins (Sunday).
BROWN 3 3 2 0 -8
BUCKNELL 0 5 1 3 -9
Goals: Joksimovic (6), Stupp (2), Moore.
Assists: Daley (2), Joksimovic, Niehaus.
Ejections Drawn: Hunter (5), Hagen (3), Moore, Babic, Joksimovic.
Steals: Joksimovic (6), Daley (3), Moore (2), Dolan (2), Babic (2), Niehaus (2), Hunter, Djordjevic.
Saves: Niehaus (6 svs., 8 ga., 32:00 min.).
Sprints: Stupp (1-1), Daley (0-1), Babic (0-1), Joksimovic (0-1).
Bucknell Record: 6-1.