The No. 15 Boston University men’s lacrosse team saw its first loss of the 2017 season, losing 12-6 to Patriot League rival Bucknell University on Saturday at Nickerson Field.
The Terriers (7-1, 2-1 Patriot League) entered the contest in the midst of their most successful season start in program history, while the Bison (3-4, 1-3 Patriot League) searched for their first Patriot League win of the season.
“[Bucknell] just played a wonderful game and played as if their season was on the line, which it was,” said BU head coach Ryan Polley. “They were 0-3 and needed a conference game and I thought they played great so I give them all the credit.”
Bucknell started things off after midfielder Ryan Durkin was able to break through the Terriers’ defense. However, junior attacker Jack Wilson responded less than two minutes later after slipping a goal past goaltender Christian Klipstein.
While the Bison maintained possession for most of the quarter, freshman defenseman and long-stick midfielder Chase Levesque was able to shoot the ball to the top shelf in transition. Senior Tommy O’Connor then knotted the score for Bucknell by end of the first quarter.
This back-and-forth continued for the following quarter, with no team taking a commanding lead.
Senior midfielder Cal Dearth and Wilson each gave BU short-lived leads, but attacker Connor O’Hara bounced the ball through the Terriers’ senior goaltender Christian Carson-Banister’s five-hole to give Bucknell a 6-5 lead to finish the first half.
The second half of the game proved to be BU’s downfall, as the Bison scored six goals unanswered goals, three of which were unassisted.
“Something that we’ve been really focusing on this year was our composure and I thought we lost some of our composure in the third quarter,” Polley said. “I think Bucknell had a lot to do with that. They were really balanced offensively. In the first half they had six different scorers, which made it hard for us to concentrate on one guy.”
Two minutes into the third quarter, midfielder Reed Malas extended Bucknell’s lead to two for the first time in the contest.
The Terriers’ had good opportunities to test the Bison’s defense, including a close goal from senior attacker Michael Carbone, but found themselves unsuccessful.
“We needed a goal to get us going in that third quarter,” Polley said. “Klipstein was making so many saves and we were getting good looks, but we just felt on that sideline if we could get one goal, everybody would just take a breath and say, ‘We’re fine.’”
The Bison had three penalties in the quarter, which provided the Terriers’ with an opportunity to put themselves on the board; however, BU was unable to capitalize on any of their man-up opportunities.
“It just complicates a problem when you have a short possession, you take a bad shot, he gets a save, he gets confidence, and then they take two minutes off the clock,” Polley said. “That kind of seemed like how the game went today. We had opportunities to score and we didn’t score then it was two minutes off the clock.”
Although the Terriers put up 13 shots in the final quarter, the most over the four quarters, they were unable to get through Bucknell’s defense and Klipstein, who had 16 saves during the game.
The Bison offense continued to get through Carson-Banister and the rest of the defense as they scored four times within a four-minute span.
O’Hara buried Bucknell’s 12th goal, his second of the game, and capped the Bison win. Though Wilson broke BU’s 34-minute scoreless stretch after capitalizing on a man-up opportunity and achieving his third hat trick of the season.
Despite the tough loss, Polley has confidence in the team as they get ready to face Harvard University on Tuesday.
“We have a huge game coming with Harvard and then certainly get back in the league on Saturday so we’ll bounce back from it,” Polley said. “I know we will. We’ve got 17 seniors that will right this ship and we’ll be back and ready to go.”