Preseason Practices Underway for Bucknell Fall Sports
Aug. 16, 2007
LEWISBURG, Pa. - With the start of classes less than a week away and temperatures soaring into the 80s most days, many of Bucknell's fall sports teams are busy with preseason practices in the waning weeks of summer. The men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, volleyball and men's water polo teams all began practices within the last two weeks as they prepare for their upcoming seasons.
Many of the squads are holding multiple practices a day, whether it is volleyball in spruced-up Davis Gym, men's water polo in spacious Kinney Natatorium or field hockey and men's and women's soccer in the shadow of the new Phase III construction at the expansive West Fields. Additionally, cross country runners can be seen snaking their way across the Bucknell campus as well as Lewisburg.
Head coach Cindy Opalski's volleyball squad is the first Bucknell team to get underway in 2007-08 when it travels to the Air Force Tournament. The two-day event begins next Friday, Aug. 24, when the Bison face Portland State. They will also take on Chicago State and host Air Force on their opening weekend. The team is coming off a 20-win campaign and a berth in the Patriot League championship match.
The Bison field hockey team qualified for the Patriot League Tournament for the second consecutive year last fall. Head coach Heather Lewis has high hopes for the team that has a strong defensive nucleus returning as well as a strong group of six freshmen. The Bison open their season with games on back-to-back days next weekend when they face Kent State and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 25 and 26.
Coming off a Patriot League Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament win, the men's soccer squad that lost just one senior to graduation is sure to be in the mix for its fourth postseason berth in five years this fall. The veteran group has piled up 17 victories over the last two seasons and returns nearly all of its goal production as well as starting goalkeeper Joey Kuterbach, who was the Patriot League Tournament MVP. Head coach Brendan Nash has set forth another challenging schedule that features five of the first six games on the road, including the season opener against Northern Illinois Aug. 31 at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic.
The women's soccer team, under the direction of Ben Landis, has high expectations as well. It returns nine of its top 11 scorers as well as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year from last year's squad that finished 12-5-1 (6-1-0 PL) and captured the Patriot League regular-season title. Like the men's team, the women will be on the road early in the season, including their first three matches. The season opener is on Friday afternoon, Aug. 31, at Yale.
John Zeigler's men's water polo team was back in the pool earlier this week, just a month after returning from a summer training trip to Hungary and Slovakia. The journey afforded the chance for the team to face top-level competition, something it will do this fall as well when its schedule is dotted with nationally ranked foes. The Bison, who lost just two seniors to graduation, will open their season Sept. 1-2 at the Navy Invitational. Kinney Natatorium, the site of the 2005 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship, will host games three weekends this fall, including the final two days of September when the ECAC Championship visits the facility.
The men's and women's cross country teams have also begun practicing for their 2007 seasons, which will commence Aug. 31 with the Bison Open, the first Bucknell home athletic even of the 2007-08 year. Head coach Kevin Donner will try to lead the women to their third consecutive Patriot League championship, while the men will attempt to improve on last year's third-place finish.
Men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf and varsity women's rowing, which also compete during the fall, will begin their practices next week.