ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Anchored by senior attackman Billy Eisenreich’s seven-point performance, the Bucknell men’s lacrosse team picked up a 14-9 victory over the host Midshipmen Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in what was both teams’ Patriot League opener.
The two teams went toe-to-toe in the opening quarter with the Bison holding a one-goal, 4-3 edge after the first 15 minutes. Navy closed out the first quarter with a perfectly executed Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.)-to-Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) goal. The Mids used that momentum to propel them into the second quarter where just 14 seconds had elapsed before Hull wrapped around the left side of the goal and tucked his shot up in the right corner to tie things up.
Bucknell, however, would hold Navy scoreless for the remainder of the half, while the Bison scored four-straight goals to take an 8-4 lead into the half. During that streak, Eisenreich scored one and aided on two other scores for Bucknell.
The Mids came out swinging in the second half, however, scoring three-straight goals in 45 seconds. Hull beat First-Team All-Patriot League defenseman Mike Huffner twice on back-to-back goals, the first at 13:47 and the second at 13:37 when rookie short stick defensive midfielder Brendan Gaine (Bay Shore, N.Y.) fed Hull off an outlet following the faceoff win. Navy closed to within one when senior midfielder Nikk Davis (Cockeysville, Md.) cut up the middle and was the recipient of a perfect Taylor Reynolds (Babylon, N.Y.) pass, sticking the shot past All-Patriot League keeper Kyle Feeney for his first goal of the year.
Senior Logan West (Berlin, Md.), who struggled mightily a week prior against North Carolina, came up with one of his 19 wins on the day, but immediately turned the ball over. That was followed by an illegal body check by junior defensive middie Jay Mann (Cockeysville, Md.) which led to an extra-man goal by Bison midfielder Peter Burke. The Burke score would be the first of four-straight by the Bison, as the Mids were held scoreless for the final 13:02 of the third quarter.
“I think they were aided by mistakes on our part,” said first-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “It certainly was not good timing to give up a penalty, but we had the faceoff won and then turned it over. We only compounded that with the penalty. We just made some uncharacteristic mistakes along the way today.”
Midway through the final quarter, the Mids took advantage of an unreleasable unsportsmanlike penalty on Bucknell rookie David Dickson, scoring back-to-back extra-man goals to cut the lead to three at 12-9. Reynolds fed sophomore midfielder Erik Hoffstadt (Dover, Del.) for a long 10-yard shot from the right side, while 26 seconds later Hull found junior middie Bryce Dabbs (Damascus, Md.) for another long shot from the opposite side of the field.
Navy was unable to keep the momentum, however, as Bucknell scored the final two goals of the games, including a goal with 43.9 seconds left following an unbelievable four flags called on one possession that left the Mids down three men at one point of the extra-man possession.
Perhaps the key stat of the day was Navy’s 25 turnovers, a stat Sowell was baffled by.
“I can’t (explain it),” said Sowell, whose Navy team came into the game averaging the 13th-fewest turnovers per game at 14.67. “This was a game of mistakes, we made too many. Decent, good teams have 12 to 13 turnovers in a game and we had 11 at the half. Why, I don’t why, but we will go back to the drawing board and figure out what led to so many mistakes. We have a tough Lafayette team to play next week.”
Six different players accounted for Navy’s nine goals, including Hull who paced the team with his third hat trick of the season with three goals and a pair of assists. Meanwhile, Jones pushed his point-scoring streak to eight-straight games after delivering a pair of goals, while Reynolds pitched in a goal and three assists.
After winning just one faceoff a week ago, West won 19 of his 27 draws (70.4) and scooped up a career-high 14 ground balls.
Defensively senior RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) made seven saves and while he gave up 14 goals, he was left one-on-one against the goal scorer on at least six occasions.
Eisenreich led all scorers in the game with two goals and five assists, while Bucknell junior Chase Bailey put up three goals and Burke dealt out two assists to match his two goals. Feeney turned away eight shots and gave up all nine Navy goals.
It’s the second-straight year Navy has lost its conference opener, losing in similar fashion a year ago to Lehigh, 14-10, on the road.
The 14 goals by Bucknell were the most scored by the Bison in the 12-game history (previously 12 in last year’s double-overtime win), while the five-goal difference marked the largest margin of victory by either team in the series since Navy scored an 11-5 win over the Bison on March 13, 2004.
The Midshipmen will be back in action next Saturday when they travel to Lafayette to face the Leopards at 12:00 pm. As a reminder, due to the lack of a press box, there will not be a radio broadcast from Easton, Pa.