April 29, 2004
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Two of the Patriot League's traditional lacrosse heavyweights wage battle Friday afternoon in the second semifinal game of the first-ever Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Tournament. The Bison and Statesmen are a combined 50-12 in Patriot League play since Hobart joined the league in 2000.The two teams met in Geneva, N.Y., not quite one month ago, with Hobart prevailing 13-9 on Apr. 3. That was one of three league losses for the Bison, their most since 1998. Bucknell has either won outright or shared each of the last four PL titles, with each determined by regular season finish. Bucknell had to win its final regular season contest this year to qualify for this tournament, and the Herd did just that with a tense 6-5 triumph over Colgate. The Statesmen have had a playoff berth sewn up for several weeks, but their 14-8 victory at Army last week not only clinched the No. 2 seed, but it knocked the 13th-ranked Black Knights out of the postseason. Winners of four of its last five, Hobart's lone league loss came at Navy (13-8) on March 16. The Midshipmen, ranked No. 2 in the nation, are the tournament's top seed and host Colgate in Friday's other semifinal.
How They Got Here
Bucknell's playoff situation could not have been any more desperate. A frustrating double-overtime loss to Army on Apr. 16 dropped the Bison into fifth place in the Patriot League standings, putting the Herd in a do-or-die situation heading into last Saturday's home finale against Colgate. A victory would mean a tournament berth, a loss would end the season. Tied 5-5 inside of six minutes to play, junior attack Chris Cara potted what would prove to be the game-winning goal in a heart-stopping 6-5 win. As it turned out, Hobart's victory at Army last Saturday created a three-way tie for third place. Bucknell claimed the No. 3 seed based on goal differential against the league - the sixth chain in the tiebreaker system - and Colgate then slid into the fourth spot based on its one-goal win at Army earlier in the month. The Black Knights, who were ranked ninth in the nation just two weeks ago, were left out of the tourney.
Bison in Search of PL Five-Peat
Bucknell has either shared or won outright each of the last four Patriot League championships. In 2000, Bucknell and Hobart both finished atop the PL with 5-1 records; in 2001 the Bison went a perfect 6-0 in league play; in 2002, Bucknell, Army and Hobart ended in a three-way tie for first at 5-1; and last season Bucknell and Army both finished 5-1. The Bison, who also won the league championship in 1996, posted a 21-3 PL record from 2000-03. Bucknell's lone NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2001. BU lost to Notre Dame 12-7 in the first round at West Point's Michie Stadium.
Cara, Fletcher Garner Player of Year Honors
Senior defenseman Blaise Fletcher and junior attack Chris Cara both received major awards this week when the results of the 2004 All-Patriot League voting were announced on Tuesday. Fletcher was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, making this the third straight year that honor has gone to a Bucknell player (goalie Justin Sussman won it in 2002 and 2003). He is the second Bison defenseman to win it, joining Hugh Donovan (1996). Cara becomes the fourth Bucknell player to win Offensive Player of the Year honors, and the first since John Golaszewski in 1999. Jon Methven (1996) and Michael Conway (1992) also earned the honor. Fletcher and Cara were also First Team All-Patriot League selections and were Bucknell's only two all-league picks. Fletcher was also a first team honoree in 2003 and a second team pick in 2002. Cara was a first team choice last season and was the league's rookie of the year in 2002.
Head Coach Sid Jamieson
A legend in the college lacrosse coaching circle and the only mentor in the 37-year history of Bucknell Lacrosse, Sid Jamieson earned Patriot League Coach of the Year accolades in 2001 after leading the Bison to their second conference title and first NCAA Tournament appearance. Jamieson was the USILA national Coach of the Year in 1996 after leading BU to an undefeated season. Jamieson, who last year was inducted into the Pennsylvania Lacrosse Hall of Fame, has a 234-226 (.509) career record.
Bucknell vs. Hobart, Part I
On Apr. 3 in Geneva, N.Y., Patrick Christensen had five goals and an assist, but it wasn't enough as the Bison dropped a 13-9 decision at rain-soaked McCooey Field. Chris Cara added a goal and three assists for BU, but Mike Conklin scored four goals and Nate Hill had two goals and five assists to lead the Statesmen to victory. Bison goalie Matt Baran made 16 saves, including eight in the second period to preserve a 4-4 halftime tie as the teams literally alternated goals throughout the first 30 minutes. Bucknell twice took one-goal leads early in the third quarter, but Hobart finally took charge with a 6-0 run, taking an 11-6 lead on Hill's EMO goal. Hobart outshot the Bison 40-35 and the two teams combined to go 6-for-9 with a man advantage.
Chris Cara on Way to National Scoring Title
Junior attack Chris Cara has a commanding 17-point lead over Syracuse star Michael Powell for the national scoring lead. In 13 games, Cara has posted 36 goals and 38 assists for 74 points. The nation's only 30-30 man this season, Cara has scored 11 (Lafayette), 10 (Holy Cross), 9 (Harvard), 8 (Mount St. Mary's) and 7 (Army) points in a game this season, the highest single-game ledgers in the country in 2004. His 11-point effort (6 goals, 5 assists) against the Leopards tied the Bucknell record, previously set by Peter von Hoffmann in 1979 and Matt Fraser in 1980.
Christensen Among Top Snipers
While Chris Cara has garnered much of the headlines for his scoring prowess in 2004, junior attack Patrick Christensen has quietly put together a terrific campaign. Christensen, who took over a starting position late last year, ranks third in the Patriot League and fifth in Division I with 35 goals in 13 games. He scored a career-high six goals in the season-opener against Mount St. Mary's and had five each against Hobart and Lafayette. His 2004 goal total is 10th-highest in Bucknell history.
EMO Unit Clicking
The Bison have been deadly with a man advantage all season long. Bucknell has converted at least one EMO goal in every game and ranks third nationally behind Duke and Albany with a 49.3 percent success rate. Of the team's 139 goals this season, 29 have come courtesy of the man-up unit. Patrick Christensen (8) and Chris Cara (7) rank 1-2 in the Patriot League in EMO goals.
A Blaise of Glory
Senior co-captain Blaise Fletcher, a two-time All-Patriot League pick, is the anchor of the Bucknell defense. An imposing figure at 6'6", Fletcher is generally assigned to the opposition's top offensive player. He is coming off one of the best games of his career, in which he forced 10 turnovers and corralled seven ground balls in Bucknell's big 6-5 win over Colgate last Saturday.
Big Shoes to Fill
Sophomore goalie Matt Baran this season was faced with the unenviable task of replacing two-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Justin Sussman in the crease. Baran has held up extremely well and has improved significantly from the start of the year. He made 17 saves in a 15-4 win over Harvard, and he matched that high-water mark for saves in Bucknell's tense sudden-death loss to Army.
Iron Man at the X
Junior Ryan Goodman has taken nearly every faceoff for Bucknell this season - 88.7 percent (260 of 293) to be exact. Goodman has won 53.5 percent, the best figure of his career thus far.
Seniors Blaise Fletcher and Brendan Fitzgibbons will play in their 54th straight game - neither has missed a contest in their careers ... middie John Salvesen is coming off back-to-back two-goal games ... the Bucknell freshman class has combined for 30 goals this season, led by 14 from starting middie Brian Gargan and nine from middie Kirk Klett ... Klett's father, Ed, is a member of the Bucknell Board of Trustees ... starting defenseman Daryl Seymour played for the Iroquois National Team at the 2002 World Games in Perth, Australia, and he scored a goal with his long pole against Team USA ... Bucknell's 28-man roster is represented by players from 13 different states, led by New York with eight ... Bucknell assistant head coach Frank Fedorjaka is a 1989 Hobart graduate and was a starting long-stick middie on three NCAA Division III national championship teams.