NEWARK, Del. – The Bucknell men’s lacrosse team opened the 2017 season in fine fashion on Saturday, overcoming a five-goal second-half deficit to defeat Delaware 14-13 at Delaware Stadium. Sean O'Brien scored a game-high six goals for the Bison, who outscored the Blue Hens 8-2 over the final 21:49.
After trailing by as many as four goals in the first half, and facing a 9-6 halftime deficit, Bucknell (1-0) saw Delaware (0-1) tally the first two goals of the second half to make it 11-6. The Bison comeback then started as they netted four consecutive goals in the latter part of the third quarter and four more in a row in the fourth.
O’Brien scored three fourth-quarter goals, while Will Sands assisted on all four Bucknell goals in the final period. Sands finished the game with five assists to go along with two goals.
Bucknell outshot Delaware 30-12 in the second half, and held a 54-35 shot advantage overall.
Reed Malas scored all three of his goals during the second half comeback. His goal with 6:49 to play in the third quarter cut the Delaware advantage to 11-7 and started the string of Bison goals. Malas followed with one more score, while Connor O’Hara and Quinn Collison tallied to bring Bucknell to within 11-10 with 2:40 left in the third. O’Hara’s goal was one of three man-up scores in the game for the Bison.
O’Brien scored twice in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with his second goal tying the score (at 12-12) for the first time since 1:10 remained in the first quarter.
Malas put the Bison up for good on his third goal with 4:33 remaining, and O’Brien scored an insurance goal with 2:48 to play in the fourth. Delaware’s Joe Eisele did bring the Blue Hens back to within 14-13 on his third goal of the game with 1:14 to play.
Bucknell’s Jarett Witzal won the ensuing faceoff, but a Bison turnover allowed Delaware a chance to tie the score. A potential game-tying shot by Eisele went high, and a Delaware turnover in the closing seconds that was caused by Jake Dunlop sealed the Bucknell victory.
Witzal won 17 of 28 faceoffs in the game and Bucknell turned the ball over just six times, compared to nine for the Blue Hens.
The Bison defense was strong in the second half, holding Delaware scoreless for a 7:52 stretch in the third quarter and for another 13:51 later in the contest. Bucknell goalie Christian Klipstein totaled eight saves.
Andrew Romagnoli and Charlie Kitchen led Delaware with four goals apiece. Blue Hen goalie Parker Ferrigan registered 13 saves.
Saturday’s game marked the sixth consecutive year Bucknell and Delaware met in a season opener, and the Bison won against the Blue Hens for the fourth time in the last five years. It was the fourth one-goal game between the teams the last six years.Bucknell will now play its next three games at home, starting with next Saturday’s 1 p.m. contest against non-league foe Bryant. The game will be broadcast on the Patriot League Network.