LEWISBURG, Pa. – A share of the Patriot League regular-season title will be on the line when the No. 11/12 Bucknell men's lacrosse team hosts Lehigh on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.
The Bison, who reached the 10-win plateau for the sixth time in Frank Fedorjaka's tenure as head coach with their 15-6 rout of Lafayette on April 13, will enter their regular-season finale ranked 11th in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches' Poll and 12th in the Inside Lacrosse Maverik Media Listing. The Mountainhawks, who were slotted 19th in the USILA Coaches' Poll and received votes in the Maverik Media Listing, are currently fourth in the Patriot League standings with a 5-2 record.
With a Senior Night victory, Bucknell will capture a share of the Patriot League regular-season title. It would be the program's ninth overall and first since 2011. Currently 6-1 in league action, the Bison can be seeded as high as second and as low as fourth in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament. No. 16/14 Navy (7-1) clinched a share of the regular-season crown last weekend and is guaranteed at least the second seed; with a win over Army West Point on Friday, No. 6/8 Loyola (6-1) would claim the top seed.
Roughly 30 minutes before the game, Bucknell will recognize its 12-man senior class: Benny Borgognone, Matt Gilray, Sam Hahn, Joe Kazar, Matt Linden, Brac McKee, Lukas Munoz, Sean O'Brien, Connor O'Hara, John Reed, Duke Repko and Will Sands. During the class of 2018's time in Lewisburg, the Bison have gone 34-22 (19-12 Patriot League), winning at least nine games in three of its four campaigns. The seniors have excelled both on the field and in the classroom, combining for five All-Patriot League awards and a grade point average of 3.28.
The Bison are also excited to welcome alumni back to campus for alumni weekend. Before Friday's game, Bucknell will hold a tailgate for alumni from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. inside the tailgate tent outside Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
Knoebels Amusement Park is set to sponsor a Bison Fun Zone, which will include an inflatable obstacle course, a bouncy house and a slide, from 6 to 8 p.m. Additional activities will include face painting, games and a create your own poster station. Weather permitting, the Knoebels mascots will be in attendance. While supplies last, fans will be treated to free pizza and drinks.
No. 19/- Lehigh (8-5, 5-2 Patriot League) vs. No. 11/12 Bucknell (10-3, 6-1 Patriot League)
When: Friday, April 20 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium – Lewisburg, Pa.
Internet Video: Patriot League Network
Live Stats: BucknellBison.com
Follow on Twitter: @Bucknell_MLAX
Bucknell at a Glance
• The Bucknell men's lacrosse team is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018. Established in 1968, the program has compiled a 370-349 all-time record with Sid Jamieson (1968-2005) and Frank Fedorjaka (2006-present) at the helm.
• The Bison are currently 10-3 (6-1 Patriot League) and have clinched a top-four seed in the Patriot League tournament. This week, they are slotted 11th in the USILA Coaches' Poll and 12th in the Inside Lacrosse Maverik Media Listing.
• One of the hottest teams in college lacrosse, Bucknell has won seven of its past eight games, which included three-straight victories over nationally ranked opponents on the road. Over that stretch, the Bison held all but one of their foes under 10 goals.
• In 2017, Bucknell went 5-8 (3-5 Patriot League), coming up a single game short of qualifying for its 11th-straight Patriot League Tournament.
• The Bison, who finished tied for seventh in the Patriot League a year ago, were picked to place fourth in the 2018 preseason poll, as voted on by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.
• Bucknell returns four All-Patriot League selections in Matt Gilray (2nd '17, '16), Christian Klipstein (2nd '17, '16), Sean O'Brien (1st '17) and Will Sands (1st '17, 2nd '16). All four were voted to the 2018 Preseason All-Patriot League team, giving the Bison the league-high total.
• Sands was named to the 2018 Tewaaraton Watch List on March 1. The senior, who was previously recognized on the 2017 list, was one of 50 men's lacrosse players to make this year's iteration. He was also named a Midseason Third Team All-American by Inside Lacrosse on March 29.
• Bucknell's captains are seniors Sands, Gilray, O'Brien and Benny Borgognone.
• Fedorjaka, who is in his 13th season as head coach, owns a 121-73 record. In Patriot League action, he has gone 56-31, leading the Bison to perfect 6-0 records in 2009 and 2011. Bucknell also posted a one-loss Patriot League campaign in 2013.
Bison Look to Capture Ninth Patriot League Regular-Season Crown
• With a victory over Lehigh, Bucknell would capture its ninth Patriot League regular-season crown.
• The Bison previously won the regular-season title in 1996 (5-0), 2000 (5-1), 2001 (6-0), 2002 (5-1), 2003 (5-1), 2005 (5-1), 2009 (6-0) and 2011 (6-0). This would be the fifth time they shared the crown; they claimed it outright with their undefeated league records in 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2011.
• Bucknell's seven Patriot League wins would be its highest total in program history. The league's regular season expanded to eight games in 2014 with the additions of Loyola and Boston University. Before this season, the Bison had never won more than five Patriot League games since those squads joined the league.
Inside the Lafayette Box Score
• Bucknell routed Lafayette, 15-6, on April 13 to move to 6-1 in Patriot League action.
• Reed Malas and Tom Smith led the Bison to their fifth-straight victory, each netting a career-best five goals. Malas, who also registered two assists, finished with a career-best seven points. Entering the night, 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.
• After spotting the Leopards an early 1-0 lead, Bucknell seized the momentum by scoring six unanswered goals to close the first quarter.
• 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.
• 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.
• Bucknell held advantages in shots (45-26) and ground balls (35-24). The Bison turned the ball over seven fewer times and forced Lafayette into going 14-for-17 on clears.
Lehigh at a Glance
• Lehigh is currently 8-5 (5-2 Patriot League) but has lost three of its past four games.
• The Mountain Hawks, who were chosen to place sixth in the Patriot League preseason poll, can finish no lower than fourth. With a win over Bucknell, they would earn the third seed.
• Lehigh's defense has been led by Craig Chick, who stands fourth nationally in caused turnovers per game (2.62). Face-off man Conor Gaffney has excelled in the x; he ranks 15th in the nation in face-off percentage (.595) and 16th in ground balls per game (6.46).
• While Bucknell leads the all-time series, 36-15, Lehigh has won five of the past eight meetings.
• Last year, the Mountain Hawks and Bison squared off for the final spot in the Patriot League Tournament at the Ulrich Sports Complex. Lehigh ultimately emerged victorious by a 9-6 margin, snapping Bucknell's streak of tournament appearances at 10.
The Bison Big Three
• Will Sands (20g-46a), Sean O'Brien (35g-4a) and Connor O'Hara (34g-4a) have accounted for 143 of the Bison's 228 points, a percentage of over 62.
• With 46 assists, Sands is tied for second nationally. He is one of only four players who have posted at least 40, along with Loyola's Pat Spencer and two Ivy League attackers.
• Bucknell, with O'Brien (t-5th, 35) and O'Hara (t-10th, 34), is one of two teams with two players in the national top 10 in goals. Sacred Heart, with Max Tuttle (2nd, 40) and Joe Saggese (t-5th, 35), is the other.
• Sands has already entered the Bison single-season top 10 in both points and assists while O'Hara and O'Brien are on the verge of cracking Bucknell's top 10 in single-season strikes.
• Beyond the Bison Big Three, only Reed Malas (21g-12a) and Tommy Sopko (20g-5a) have eclipsed the 20-point threshold to date.
Enter Sandsman: Will Sands Among Nation's Elite Attackers
• Will Sands is on pace to have one of the best offensive seasons in Bucknell history. With one game left to play in the regular season, he boasts 66 points (20g-46a).
• With 46 assists, Sands needs just three to claim the school record from David Dickson (2013). A year ago, Sands recorded 42 helpers, which previously stood second in school history.
• Sands has now eclipsed the 60-point threshold in three of his four collegiate seasons. Entering this year, he owned the seventh- (64, 2016) and eighth- (62, 2017) highest point totals in Bucknell's 50-year history. His 2018 total is currently in a four-way tie for fourth; he has a chance to become only the fourth Bison to reach the 70-point plateau in a single season.
• Sands is currently tied for second in the nation in assists and seventh in points. A member of the 2018 Tewaaraton Watch List and an Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American, he has factored into 44 percent of Bucknell's goals, the seventh-highest percentage in the Division I ranks.
• Sands also has a chance to set two Bison career records; he needs seven assists to set a new standard (139) and 15 points to match Chris Cara's (2002-05) record (249).
Bison in the NCAA Top 10 (as of April 18)
• Connor O'Hara: Tied for 10th in goals (34)
• Sean O'Brien: Tied for sixth in goals (35)
• Will Sands: Tied for second in assists (46)
• Will Sands: Fifth in assists per game (3.54)
• Will Sands: Seventh in points (66) - one of seven with 65
• Goals: Sean O'Brien (35)
• Assists: Will Sands (46) - only Bison above 15
• Points: Will Sands (66) - only Bison above 40
• Shots: Sean O'Brien (120) - only Bison above 80
• Ground balls: Jarett Witzal (43)
• Caused turnovers: Lukas Munoz (18)
• Face-off wins: Jarett Witzal (132)
• Face-off percentage: Jarett Witzal (.471)
• Save percentage: Christian Klipstein (.503)
• Goals against average: Christian Klipstein (9.01)
• Saves: Christian Klipstein (99)
Single-Season Milestones Met vs. Lafayette
• Sean O'Brien: Moved to third in shots; now has 120
• Will Sands: Entered four-way tie for fourth in points; now has 66
• Jarett Witzal: Moved to third in face-off attempts; now has 280, three more than his 2016 total which previously stood third
• Jarett Witzal: Took fifth in face-off wins; now has 132
Single-Season Milestone Watch
• Sean O'Brien: Needs two goals to crack Bucknell's top 10 with 37; needs three to move to seventh with 38
• Sean O'Brien: Needs four shots to break Bucknell's school record with 124
• Sean O'Brien: Needs five goals to become sixth Bison with 40
• Connor O'Hara: Needs three goals to crack Bucknell's top 10 with 37; needs four to move to seventh with 38
• Connor O'Hara: Needs six goals to become sixth Bison with 40
• Will Sands: Needs three assists to break Bucknell's school record with 49
• Will Sands: Needs four points to become fourth Bison to reach 70-point plateau; needs 10 points to vault to third with 76
• Jarett Witzal: Needs two face-off wins to move to fourth; needs 13 to move to third
• Jarett Witzal: Needs four face-off attempts to break Bucknell's school record with 284
Career Milestones Met vs. Lafayette
• Will Sands: Entered tie for third in assists; now has 132
• Jarett Witzal: Claimed school record in face-off wins from Jake Clarke (422); now has 433
• Jarett Witzal: Moved to fourth in ground balls; now has 169
Career Milestone Watch
• Matt Gilray: Needs six ground balls to move to seventh with 152
• Christian Klipstein: Needs three saves to become the ninth Bison with at least 400 in his career
• Christian Klipstein: Needs 28 saves to vault to eighth with 431
• Sean O'Brien: Needs 17 shots to enter tie for fourth with 306
• Will Sands: Needs one goal to enter tie for fifth with 103; needs nine to enter tie for fourth with 111
• Will Sands: Needs seven assists to break Bucknell's school record with 139
• Will Sands: Needs 15 points to match Bucknell's school record of 249
• Will Sands: Needs 16 shots to enter tie for fourth with 306
• Jarett Witzal: Needs six ground balls to move to third with 175; needs 31 to become third Bison with 200
A Look Ahead
• The Bison, if seeded third or fourth, will host a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday, April 24. If they are the No. 2 seed, they will earn a bye and open the Patriot League Tournament with a semifinal contest on Friday, April 27.