LEWISBURG, Pa. – The No. 12/11 Bucknell men's lacrosse team will have a chance to play for at least a share of the Patriot League regular-season title next week against rival Lehigh after improving to 6-1 in league play with a 15-6 rout of Lafayette on Friday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
Reed Malas and Tom Smith led the Bison (10-3, 6-1 Patriot League) to their fifth-straight victory, each netting a career-best five goals. After spotting the Leopards (3-11, 0-7 Patriot League) an early 1-0 lead, they seized the momentum by scoring six unanswered goals to close the first quarter.
While Lafayette drew back within three, at 6-3, by scoring the second quarter's first two goals, Bucknell used a 5-1 run that stretched from the 5:50 mark of the second quarter to the 4:19 mark of the third to effectively put the game out of reach. A 4-1 fourth quarter put an exclamation mark on the complete team effort.
The Bison dominated in the face-off x, winning 17 of 25. Jarett Witzal went 16-for-23, setting Bucknell's school record for career face-offs won in the process. Witzal's sixth face-off win of the contest pushed him past Jake Clarke, who won 422 from 2008 to 2011. Witzal, who is only a junior, will enter the regular-season finale with 433.
Malas, who also registered a pair of assists, finished the night with a career-best seven points. Entering the game, Smith had never netted more than two goals in a single game; he owned 12 career goals, all but three of which he scored in 2018. Malas posted five (3g-2a) of his seven points during the second half while Smith recorded back-to-back goals at the 5:50 and 1:41 marks of the second quarter and the 8:03 and 4:19 marks of the third.
Will Sands (1g-3a) and Sean O'Brien (2g-1a) also had multi-point outings. Sands assisted on half of Bucknell's goals during its 6-0 first quarter run, giving him 46 on the season. He now needs just three to break the single-season school record, which he fell six short of in 2017.
The stifling Bison defense was led by Benny Borgognone, who filled the stat sheet with a game-best seven ground balls and two caused turnovers. Hunter Newman led all players with three caused turnovers and also collected three ground balls while Bryant Boswell added six ground balls, four of which came following face-offs.
Nick Clarke and Conor Shears also caused two turnovers while Witzal scooped up five ground balls. O'Brien's younger brother, Colin, posted his first collegiate point with an assist on Grayson Burns's first collegiate goal, which came with 3:38 remaining in regulation.
Bucknell held advantages in shots (45-26) and ground balls (35-24). The Bison turned the ball over seven fewer times and forced the Leopards into going 14-for-17 on clears.
Bucknell has now reached the double digits in victories six times during Frank Fedorjaka's tenure as head coach, most recently in 2016 (10-5). The Bison will have a chance to play for their first Patriot League regular-season crown since 2011, when they went 6-0 in league play and ultimately won the Patriot League tournament.
At least a share of the Patriot League regular-season title will be on the line when Bucknell hosts Lehigh on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. in its regular-season finale.