LEWISBURG, Pa. – All three seniors contributed as Stephanie Dressler scored the first goal, Emily Finn made numerous outstanding saves down the stretch, and Emily Johnson played well in her first career start to lead the Bison to a 2-1 win over visiting Holy Cross in a Patriot League field hockey game Saturday at Graham Field.
Dressler, Finn, and Johnson were honored prior to the game for Senior Day and then went out and helped Bucknell prevail in a near must-win game. The Bison, who sit in third place in the league standings, improved to 7-8 overall and 3-2 in the conference, while the Crusaders fell to 6-9 overall and 2-3 in the conference.
Bucknell, Lafayette, and Holy Cross entered the day in a three-way tie for third in the standings and were battling for the final two spots in the Patriot League Tournament. Bucknell, with a win and Lafayette’s loss to American, has clinched a 10th straight appearance in the postseason, all under the direction of head coach Jeremy Cook.
Finn stopped eight of the nine shots she faced, including four in the final nine minutes when the teams were deadlocked at 1-1. The biggest came on a breakaway by the Patriot League’s leading scorer, Maureen Connolly, with 8:24 to play. Finn, adjusting well to a similar situation that resulted in a goal earlier in the game, took an aggressive approach by coming out of the crease to stop the shot from close range.
Bucknell’s defensive play helped set the stage for a game-winning goal by junior M.C. Evans with 1:21 left in regulation. Following a penalty corner, Evans redirected a shot by junior Lexi Quick past the goalie for her fourth goal of the season.
The Bison led 1-0 for most of the game thanks to a quick goal by Dressler that energized the team for much of the first half. Her fourth score of the season came just 1:36 into the contest and was set up by a short pass from junior Mackenzie Haney.
Bucknell took that lead into the break, but had plenty of good looks throughout the half. They had a 5-3 edge in shots and a 6-0 advantage in penalty corners after the first 35 minutes.
Holy Cross finally got on the board in the 44th minute when Connolly, who now leads the league with 15 goals and points with 38, took the ball from midfield on a one-on-one fastbreak and beat Finn. But that was the only time the Crusaders would get past Finn as she stepped up big to help close out the game.
“All three of them were rock stars today. They played really well,” Cook said of his three seniors. “That was a nerve-racking game. Holy Cross is a fantastic team with one of the best goal scorers in the conference. It was a team effort, and Finn made some tremendous saves to help us get the win.”
Bucknell has stepped up big when it had to in each of the past two seasons. The Bison beat Lafayette 3-0 at home in a must-win game last season and now defeated Holy Cross in a similar situation at Graham Field this season. They are 6-2 at home on the year.
Bucknell will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, which will be played at regular season champion Boston University on Friday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 5.
First, the Bison will turn their attention to a non-conference game at Lock Haven on Sunday. The game is scheduled for noon at Charlotte E. Smith Field.