Setting the Scene
Who: Bucknell (2-5-0, 0-0-0 PL) at Lafayette (2-3-1, 0-0-0 PL)
When: Saturday, Sept. 16, 3 p.m.
Where: Oaks Stadium, Easton, Pa.
Live Video: Patriot League Network
Live Stats: GoLeopards.com
About the Bison
• In an effort to defend its 2016 Patriot League championship, Bucknell head coach Kelly Cook challenged her team with a very difficult non-conference schedule. The Bison faced the likes of Syracuse, Duke, Tennessee, Saint Joseph's and William & Mary, all with an eye toward preparation for start of conference play on Sept. 16. Well that day has come, as the Bison travel to Easton on Saturday to take on Lafayette in the Patriot League opener for both sides.
• Bucknell comes in with a 2-5-0 record, but the five losses have come against teams with a combined 28-8-3 record and a +44 goal differential.
• Both of Bucknell's victories have come in dramatic fashion, with freshman Brianna Kropinack tallying both game-winning goals. At Rider on Sept. 3, the Bison trailed the Broncs 1-0 into the 80th minute. But senior co-captain Meghan Holtz provided the equalizer with a wonderful volley from the top of the 18 after Rider had headed away a corner kick. Then in the first overtime period, Holtz lobbed a pass to Kropinack on the left side of the box, and the Bison freshman calmly waited for the bouncing ball to come down before depositing it in the back of the net for her first career goal. At Penn last Saturday night, Kropincak's goal in the 79th minute, after another assist from Holtz, was all the Bison needed in a 1-0 win over the Quakers.
• Of Bucknell's six goals this season, half have come from freshmen. Kropinack has two goals, and Jenna Marek has one. Kropinack, Marek and Alexandra Catanzarite have all seen considerable playing time in the attacking third for the Bison.
• Holtz has played a holding defensive midfield position for much of her career, and the two-time All-Patriot League selection entered her senior year with one career goal. She now has two already this season to go along with two assists, and she is the team's top scorer with six points.
• Sophomore goalkeeper Dani Kaufman is off to a strong start with 44 saves through seven games. Her 6.3 saves per game lead the Patriot League and rank 26th nationally. Kaufman has an experienced back four in front of her, with center backs Karli Cirovski and Maddie Dano flanked by outside backs Jackie Ham and Ali Russo.
• Bucknell set team records in wins (16), league wins (8) and win percentage (.850) last season, 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.
• The Bison have reached the Patriot League Championship game each of the last two seasons under Kelly Cook, who is in her third year as head coach. She is a two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year and will be joined on the sidelines by David Madsen and Leigh Howard. The trio earned NSCAA Regional Staff of the Year honors in 2016.
• Senior forward Kendall Ham was named to the watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given annually to the nation's best player. Ham became Bucknell's first women's soccer All-American last season. She and her twin sister, outside back Jackie Ham, are starters and returning All-Patriot League selections.
Record Book Watch
• Kendall Ham is tied for sixth (with Jennifer Margolis) on Bucknell's career points chart with 67. Next up is Kerry McDonnell with 76.
• Kendall Ham is seventh all-time in goals with 29. She needs one more to catch McDonnell for the No. 6 spot and three more to equal Christa Matlack for fifth all-time.
• Maddie Mulford sits in a four-way tie for seventh place on Bucknell's career assists list. Her next assist will move her into a tie for sixth with Krista Lee Gentile.
Scouting Lafayette/Series History
• Under the direction of 12th-year head coach Mick Statham, Lafayette comes in with a 2-3-1 record, including wins over NJIT and Delaware State and a draw with Binghamton. The Leopards have been beaten by Siena, Villanova and Brown. The 2-1 loss at Brown came in their most recent outing on Sunday.
• The Leopards have been outscored 13-8 on the season. Katie Brannigan is the team's top scorer with six points from two goals and two assists. Sophie Saldivar has a goal and two assists, while Gabrielle Martone has a team-high three assists.
• Lafayette hit a milestone last season when it won its first-ever Patriot League Tournament game. The Leopards beat Lehigh 1-0 in double-overtime in the quarterfinals, then fell 2-0 at Bucknell in the semis. The Leopards were 7-8-4 overall and 3-5-1 in the Patriot League last year, but they are trying to overcome the loss of four of their top five scorers from that team.
• Lafayette has split the goalkeeping duties, with Maggie Pohl starting all six games and Kelly O'Brien coming on for the second half in all six. Pohl has 13 saves and six goals against, while O'Brien has stopped 18 shots with seven goals conceded.
• Bucknell is 20-6-2 all-time against Lafayette, including a current 15-game unbeaten streak (13-0-2) dating back to the Leopards' last series win in 2002. Bucknell has outscored Lafayette 34-6 during the streak.
• The two teams met twice last season, both coming in Lewisburg. In the regular season, Bucknell won 4-0 behind two goals from Maddie Mulford and one each from Maddie Dano and Bailey Hurst. In the Patriot League Tournament semifinals, the Bison prevailed 2-0. Alexis Gannon scored in the first half off an assist from Gabi Rosenfeld, and then Rosenfeld netted her first Bucknell goal for some second-half insurance.
• The Bison have a pair of home games next week. They step back away from conference play on Wednesday to host Saint Francis (Pa.), and then Patriot League rival American comes to Emmitt Field next Saturday.