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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #19 Bucknell Bison

The Bison were one of the surprise teams in the country, but an early exit in the Patriot League Tournament kept them out of the NCAA Tournament.

Bucknell Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Lehigh and Saint Joseph’s.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#19 Bucknell Bison

Conference: Patriot League
2018 Record: 11-4 (7-1 in Patriot League play)
Postseason: Lost to Boston University in Patriot League quarterfinals
Head coach: Frank Fedorjaka (13th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Sean O’Brien (42)
Assists: Will Sands (55)
Points: Will Sands (75)
Faceoffs: Jarett Witzal (154-of-325; 47.4%)
Ground balls: Jarett Witzal (54)
Caused turnovers: Benny Borgognone and Lukas Munoz (19)
Goals against average: Christian Klipstein (9.11 GAA)
Save percentage: Christian Klipstein (49.1%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Will Sands (20 Gs, 55 As, 14 CTs), M Sean O’Brien (42 Gs, 5 As, 27 GBs), A Connor O’Hara (37 Gs, 8 As, 17 GBs), D Lukas Munoz (27 GBs, 19 CTs, 1 A), D Benny Borgognone (30 GBs, 19 CTs), D/LSM Matt Gilray (28 GBs, 13 CTs), SSDM Duke Repko (11 GBs, 1 CT, 1 G, 1 A)
Senior scoring departing: 170 of 271 points (62.7%)
Senior starts lost: 85 of 150 (56.7%)

Season Summary

Bucknell was probably the best team in the country that was left out of the NCAA Tournament in 2018. Led by a ton of seniors including Will Sands, the Bison finished their 50th season with their best record since 2013 when they went 12-4.

It was an average start for Bucknell, winning their first two games over Marist and Bryant before falling to Richmond late with 31 seconds to play. After a Colgate win, the Bison then fell to Navy before bouncing back with two convincing wins against Holy Cross and Boston University. But yet again, they had another hiccup with another late one-goal loss, this time to Penn with two seconds left. At that point, Bucknell faced two very strong opponents in the next two weeks, with Army in-between.

Their first big test was on the road against Loyola. Leading by four with 8:21 left, the Bison saw the Greyhounds get to within one with a little over three minutes to play. But Bucknell was able to hold off Pat Spencer and the Loyola offense to get their first signature win of the season. The road swing continued with a 10-7 win over Army West Point before a midweek showdown in Connecticut against Yale. Down one at halftime, the Bison scored five goals in the third to take an 8-5 lead before the Bulldogs tied the game up with 1:38 left in regulation. But once again, Bucknell found a way to win thanks to Sean O’Brien’s game-winner in overtime. Two signature road wins was definitely something worth of an at-large bid.

As expected, the Bison took care of Mount St. Mary’s, Lafayette, and Lehigh to end the season at 10-4 and tied for first in the Patriot League standings. But based on goal differential, Bucknell got the three seed and had to face Boston University once again in the Patriot League quarterfinals. And it would spell the end of a special year for the team. The Bison led 11-6 midway through the third quarter, but saw the Terriers score the final six goals of the game to complete the upset and leave Bucknell out of the NCAA Tournament field on Selection Sunday.

Five players, including the three attackmen of Will Sands, Connor O’Hara, and freshman Tommy Sopko, started all 15 games for the Bison in 2018. Sands led the way with 75 points, 55 of them assists, with O’Hara tallying 45 points and Sopko notching 24 goals and six assists. The midfield unit was spearheaded by senior Sean O’Brien and his team-high 42 goals and junior Reed Malas, who recorded 22 goals on the season. Junior Tom Smith was the third starting midfielder for most of the season with 21 goals on the year. Other contributors included junior Ryan Durkin, sophomore Will Yorke , and freshmen Nick Clarke and Brendan Egan.

On defense, seniors Lukas Munoz and Benny Borgognone started all 15 games for Bucknell, while senior LSM Matt Gilray converted to a close defenseman and started 10 games for the Bison. Freshman Bryant Boswell started at defense before transitioning to LSM, and sophomore Conor Shears also got some reps at close defense. Sophomore Hunter Newman was the other LSM along with Boswell when he converted to the position. The short sticks consisted of senior Duke Repko, junior Brad Landry, and sophomore Matt Fedorjaka. Junior Jarrett Witzal went 47.5% from the faceoff X, while classmate Christian Klipstein carried a 9.11 goals against average and a 49.1% save percentage for the year.

Looking Ahead

There will be a ton of questions over who helps carry the offense. Sopko at attack along with Malas and Smith all had 20 goals last season and at least 25 points. But after that, the next leading scorer was Will Yorke and his three goals. Yorke, Durkin, Clarke, and Egan will have higher expectations and more responsibilities on offense to help produce on the offense. They’ll also have a new offensive coordinator in Ryan Danehy.

On the defense, all three starters are gone. Boswell and Shears were the only other players that got starts during the season. Will Fedorjaka move Boswell back to close defense? There’s also junior Alec Talarico and freshman Phil Puccio on the roster as well. Newman stays at LSM, but Tyler Senerchia transferred to Sacred Heart over the summer. With Repko gone at SSDM, Landry and Fedorjaka remain. It might be a rebuild year for the Bison, but maybe their depth guys, as well as some of their incoming freshmen, could bring surprises to Lewisburg.

Here’s who the Bison will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Bucknell’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Matthew Barkauskas Attack Mountain Lakes (NJ)
Michael Carroll Attack Christian Brothers (NJ)
Nick Crovatto Midfield/FO New Canaan (CT)
Reid Delanois Defense/LSM Loyola Blakefield (MD)
Frankie Higgins Defense/LSM Hingham (MA)
Jared Hodell Midfield Holy Family (CO)
Andrew Hurdle Attack/Midfield McDonogh (MD)
Brenden Lundy Attack Trinity-Pawling (NY)
Ryan McCann Defense/LSM Episcopal Academy (PA)
Travis Talarico Defense Bergen Catholic (NJ)
Alston Tarry Attack/Midfield Bronxville (NY)
Zach Tucker Midfield Greenwich (CT)
Jack Van Slyke Goalie Georgetown Prep (MD)
Drew Wellington Defense Landon (MD)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.

Poll

How many wins will Bucknell get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    0-5
    (9 votes)
  • 28%
    6-7
    (15 votes)
  • 18%
    8-9
    (10 votes)
  • 35%
    10+
    (19 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now