Nov. 1, 2007
What: Lehigh (6-6-2, 2-3-0 PL) at Bucknell (7-5-4, 2-2-1 PL)
Where: Varsity Soccer Field, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Friday, Nov. 2, 2007, 8 p.m.
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Promotions: Fans are encouraged to wear orange, Damon's Grill Tailgate
Bucknell hosts Lehigh Friday evening at Varsity Soccer Field in an important Patriot League match as both teams battle for a Patriot League Tournament berth. The two squads each won Patriot League titles last year -- Bucknell won the tournament trophy, while Lehigh claimed the regular-season crown -- and were picked to finish in the top two spots in the Patriot League in the preseason. The Bison hold down fifth place in the league standings entering the weekend, just one point behind fourth-place Lafayette. The Mountain Hawks are just one point behind Bucknell. Both squads enter Friday's contest coming off shutout wins. Lehigh defeated Army last Saturday, while Bucknell won 1-0 in a non-league affair at NJIT on Wednesday.
With a Win over Lehigh, Bucknell Would...
...win at least eight games for a third consecutive season for the first time since 1981-83
...win at least three Patriot League games for the sixth consecutive year
...post its first two-game winning streak since defeating Niagara, Navy and La Salle consecutively in late September and early October
...knock Lehigh out of the race for a berth in the Patriot League Tournament
...improve to 4-1-5 in November since the 2004 season
...help head coach Brendan Nash to his 80th career victory, and his second against Lehigh
Bucknell vs. Lehigh
Success at Varsity Soccer Field
Bucknell trails in the all-time series with Lehigh 20-23-8, but has had some success in recent years after losing eight consecutive times from 1996-2002. In seven meetings since the beginning of the 2003 campaign, the Bison are 1-3-3 against the Mountain Hawks. The lone win in that span was a 1-0 victory in Lewisburg in 2005. That match was the last time the two teams met on Bucknell's home field. Each team has defeated the other on penalty kicks in the Patriot League Tournament recently. Lehigh accomplished the feat in 2003, while Bucknell did the same last fall. Both times the losing team was the No. 1 seed and playing on its home field.
Bucknell owns a 3-2-2 record at Varsity Soccer Field this year. The Bison had a five-game home unbeaten streak snapped last Saturday with a 2-1 loss to Lafayette. Since the beginning of the 2000 campaign, Bucknell has posted a 38-13-11 regular-season record in Lewisburg. The Bison have compiled a 3-2-2 home mark this year. Among the 38 wins and 11 ties have been 31 shutouts for the Bucknell defense.
Seven-Game Unbeaten Streak
Bucknell had a seven-game unbeaten streak earlier this year, equaling the fourth-longest in program history. Last year the Bison had an eight-game unbeaten streak, the third-longest in the history of the program.
Ties, Ties, Ties
Bucknell has had an unprecedented number of ties in recent years. This year the Bison have four ties, giving them 14 over the last three years, a new program record. In fact, just one Bucknell team had posted at least four ties before the 2005 squad had four and the 2006 team had a program-record six.
Eyeing Patriot League Tournament
Bucknell is still alive for the Patriot League Tournament as it heads into its final two games of the season. The top four teams in the Patriot League standings qualify for the postseason tournament, which is held at the home field of the highest seed. The Bison, who won the Patriot League Tournament last year as the fourth seed, have advanced to the postseason three of the last four years.
After playing 13 consecutive overtime games without suffering a loss, Bucknell has dropped two overtime decisions this year. The Bison lost in heartbreaking fashion to both Northwestern and Colgate. The last time Bucknell lost in overtime before this season was in 2004 when it fell 2-1 to James Madison.
While Bucknell is outscoring its opponents 20-14, it has been especially strong in the second half, holding a 12-4 scoring advantage. The Bison have played even with opponents in the first half (8-8).
Seniors Corey Curnutte, Joey Kuterbach and Justin Wolf are Bucknell's three captains this season. Both Curnutte and Kuterbach are serving as captains for the second consecutive year. The experienced trio has combined to play in 202 career games with 189 starts. Curnutte and Kuterbach are the fourth and fifth two-time captains under Bucknell head coach Brendan Nash, joining Bill Epley (1999-2000), Brian King (2002-03) and Michael Lookingland (2003-04).
Success Under Nash
Bucknell ninth-year head coach Brendan Nash will be going for his 80th career victory Friday agaisnt Lehigh. With a 79-68-24 career record, Nash is one of just two Bison mentors in the history of the program to own .500 records. The other is longtime head coach Craig Reynolds, who amassed a 238-212-36 mark in 32 years at the helm of the Bison. Nash is nearly one-third of the way to Reynolds' record victory total.
Kuterbach Moving Up Lists
Senior co-captain Joey Kuterbach recorded seven saves and picked up his career-high seventh shutout of the season Wednesday at NJIT. He now has 17 shutouts in his career to rank fourth in Bucknell history and stands eighth with 223 career saves. His seven saves against the Highlanders were his most since posting eight in the season opener with Northern Illinois. Kuterbach is also etching his name into the Patriot League record books. He owns a 0.79 goals-against average this season and has lowered his career figure to 0.92, the fifth-best in Patriot League history.
Joey Kuterbach has started all 16 games this season and now has 39 consecutive starts. He played all 2195:16 in goal for the Bison last year, and has played 1489:24 of a possible 1538:49 this year.
Sophomore Conor O'Brien netted his third goal in the last four games Wednesday at NJIT. He now has a team-high five scores on the season and has started all 39 games since setting foot on campus.
Recognition for Wolf
Senior co-captain Justin Wolf is tied for the team lead with a career high-tying three assists and is second on the squad with 11 points. His three assists have elevated his career total to 11, just two shy of equaling Steve Goldenring for 10th place on Bucknell's career list. Additionally, Wolf, who is a management major, was named to the Academic All-District II Men's Soccer First Team on Thursday. It is the second consecutive year he has earned the honor and he will now be up for Academic All-America recognition. That honor will be announced later this fall.
Wolf Strong in Wins
Justin Wolf has played especially well on the offensive end during Bucknell victories. In fact, all four of his goals have come in Bison wins. No other Bucknell player that has tallied more than one goal has scored all of his goals in victories. Overall, Bucknell is outscoring its opponents 12-1 in its seven wins.
Conor O'Brien, Justin Wolf and Corey Curnutte have each scored at least four goals this season, marking the first time three Bison have tallied at least four goals in a season since Scott Visnic (six goals), Jonathan Hemmert (5) and Ori Adrabi (5) accomplished the feat in 2004.
Bucknell has netted 20 goals this season for an average of 1.25 per game. The Bison totaled just 23 goals in 20 games last year and the last time they averaged more goals per game was 2003 when they posted 1.55 goals per contest.
Bucknell has seen increased offensive output this season, and that is most exhibited by its 227 shots. In seven additional games last fall, the Bison managed just 220 shots. The last time Bucknell fired more shots was 2003 when it accumulated 280.
Patriot League Preseason Poll
Coming off a Patriot League Tournament title and a first-round NCAA Tournament win, Bucknell was picked second in the Patriot League Preseason Poll this year. The Bison collected four first-place votes and were picked to finish behind only defending regular-season champion Lehigh.
Bucknell is idle until next Saturday, Nov. 10, when it hosts American at 4 p.m. The contest could be key in securing a Patriot League Tournament berth for the Bison. Additionally, it will be Senior Day at Varsity Soccer Field. Bucknell's seven seniors (Corey Curnutte, David Harris, Kevin Holmes, Andy Kummer, Joey Kuterbach, Joe Mellott, Justin Wolf) will be honored in pregame ceremonies.