The 2013 season is six months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.
Important People: Kyle Feeney (G); Todd Heritage (A); David Dickson (A/M); Chase Bailey (A); Mike Huffner (D)
Formerly Important People: Billy Eisenreich (A); Charlie Streep (M); Nick Gantsoudes (M); Jason Neithamer (LSM)
Final 2012 Poll Positions: Media: NR; Coaches: 20
2012 Record: 9-7 (3-3, Patriot)
2012 Snapshot: Hello, beautiful!
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Losing Billy Eisenreich and Charlie Streep -- the former to graduation, the latter to Dom Starsia's power plant in Charlottesville, Virginia -- are mega blows to the neck for Frank Fedorjaka's program. While Streep didn't see the field in 2012 for the Bison (a treacherous knee kept the midfielder from causing havoc throughout the Patriot League and beyond), Eisenreich -- a third team All-America last season -- was a major factor for Bucknell, serving as the offense's primary cog and providing a stabilizing presence to one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country. You can't simply replace players of Eisenreich's and Streep's ability; these were program-defining contributors that will leave a void due to the non-fungible nature of their production. Fedorjaka and Joe Connor are going to need to re-assess their offensive approach in 2013 to try and mitigate the impact of losing two heavy-usage players, building around a leveraged core of what were formerly complementary players.
A Thousand White Doves
The returning assets that Bucknell will have next year are strong and, maybe more importantly, of the upper-class variety: Feeney, a rising senior, has shown an ability to ball-stop as well as many of Division I's better keepers; Bailey and Heritage are seasoned, and while they had the luxury of playing alongside Eisenreich last year, are dangerous offensive elements in somewhat different ways; Dickson, a cat that has the look and feel of a young Will Manny, was arguably the Patriot League's second-best freshman behind Colgate's Ryan Walsh; and Huffner returns with Jackson Place to anchor the close defense. There is still a lot of ability hanging around Lewisburg and if Bucknell can get out of the blocks better than they did last season -- the Bison opened the year in 2012 with a three-game losing streak -- Fedorjaka may have a league sleeper on his hands. The Bison aren't likely to be quite as dangerous as they were a year ago, but the program is still hanging around the top-third of the nation despite its losses.