CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Matt Gilray, Christian Klipstein, Sean O'Brien and Will Sands were voted to the Patriot League Preseason All-League Team, and the Bucknell men's lacrosse team was tabbed to finish fourth, the league office announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Bison paced the Patriot League with their four Preseason All-League honorees. Based on a vote by the league's head coaches and sports information directors, Bucknell earned the fourth spot in the preseason rankings with 78 points, one more than Boston University.
A two-time All-Patriot League Second Team selection, Gilray led the Bison in caused turnovers (17) and placed second to faceoff specialist Jarett Witzal in ground balls (48) a year ago. In each of the past two seasons, he cracked the Patriot League's top 15 in ground balls per game, coming in at 13th in both 2017 (3.69) and 2016 (3.38). Over the course of his collegiate career, he has played short-stick midfield, long-stick midfield and close defense; he enters his senior campaign with 121 ground balls, 34 caused turnovers and 10 points (5g-5a).
Also a two-time All-Patriot League Second Team honoree, Klipstein will begin his junior year with Bucknell's seventh-best career goals against average (9.37). As a freshman, he went 10-4, placing third in the nation in save percentage (.579), 11th in GAA (8.41) and 21st in saves (158). His 23 stops against Villanova was tied for the highest total in the NCAA that season. He followed that up by posting a .513 save percentage and 10.41 GAA in 2017; he reached the double figures in saves in 10 of 13 games to wrap up the season with 140.
O'Brien enjoyed a breakout junior season in 2017, garnering All-Patriot League First Team accolades after netting 28 goals in 13 games, an average of 2.15 per contest that ranked fourth in the Patriot League. The midfielder, who entered that campaign with 17 career goals, recorded a point in every game and a goal in 11 of 13; he also led the Patriot League with 109 shot attempts.
One of the Patriot League's top attackmen, the decorated Sands has a chance to join Chris Cara (2002-05) and Pete von Hoffmann (1976-79) as the only Bison to reach the 200-point plateau. In 2017, Sands was unanimously selected to the All-Patriot League First Team after finishing second in the league with 62 points (20g-42a) in 13 games. One of only two Patriot League players to average more than 3.50 points per game, he stood ninth in the Division I ranks with his 4.77 average.
Sands was also among the NCAA leaders in assists, taking third with an average of 3.23 per contest. His season assist total was good for second in Bison history, just six shy of David Dickson's 2013 record. In 2016, Sands was voted to the All-Patriot League Second Team after posting 64 points (36g-28a) in 15 contests, a total good for seventh in the Bucknell annals.
Sands enters his senior campaign with 168 points (82g-86a), which slots him seventh in program history. Sands, who surpassed 40 points each of the past three seasons, needs 16 to crack the top five and 32 to reach the elusive 200-point threshold.
Two-time defending champion Loyola was picked to win the Patriot League, securing 126 points and 14 of 18 first-place votes. Army West Point, the tournament runner-up each of the past three seasons, earned the second spot with 115 points and the remaining first-place votes. Navy rounded out the top three with 92 points.
The Bison begin their 50th anniversary season on Saturday, Feb. 3 by hosting Marist at 1 p.m. in their first of six games at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. In 2017, they finished 5-8 (3-5 Patriot League), coming up a single game short of qualifying for their 11th-straight Patriot League Tournament.
Patriot League Men’s Lacrosse Preseason Poll
Loyola Maryland, 126 points (14)
Army West Point, 115 points (4)
Navy, 92 points
Bucknell, 78 points
Boston University, 77 points
Lehigh, 65 points
Colgate, 45 points
Holy Cross, 34
Lafayette, 16 points
Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Pat Spencer, Loyola Maryland, Jr., A
Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: John Surdick, Army West Point, Jr., D
Men’s Lacrosse Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Attack: Jack Wilson, Boston University, Sr.
Attack: Will Sands, Bucknell, Sr.
Attack: Pat Spencer, Loyola Maryland, Jr.
Midfield: David Symmes, Army West Point, Sr.
Midfield: Sean O'Brien, Bucknell, Sr.
Midfield: Greyson Torain, Navy, Jr.
Midfield: Casey Rees, Navy, Sr.
Defense: John Surdick, Army West Point, Jr.
Defense: Matt Gilray, Bucknell, Sr.
Defense: Eddie Bouhall, Lehigh
Goalkeeper: Christian Klipstein, Bucknell, Jr.
Faceoff Specialist: Conor Gaffney, Lehigh, So.
Defensive Specialist: Craig Chick, Lehigh, Jr.
- The Preseason All-Patriot League Men’s Lacrosse Team has 13 members due to a tie in the voting