#13 Army Loses Tight PL Battle to #15 Bucknell

WEST POINT, N.Y. A battle of top 15 teams lived up to the hype but it was No. 15 Bucknell surviving an 8-7 decision against No. 13 Army in front of nearly 3,000 fans at Michie Stadium. The Bison led 5-4 at the half and held on in the waning seconds, as Army made it a one-goal game with 56 seconds remaining but could not come up with the equalizer.

Sophomore attackman Garrett Thul matched a season-high four goals to lead the Black Knights. Senior attackman Jeremy Boltus tallied three assists, including two on Thul scores. Boltus' final helper came on a Conor Hayes goal with 56 seconds remaining, pulling the Black Knights within 8-7. Junior Derek Sipperly won the ensuing faceoff to give Army possession, but a costly turnover and offsides call with seven seconds remaining thwarted the Black Knights' rally.

Army dropped to 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Patriot League play. The Bison moved to 10-2 on the season and remained perfect (4-0) in conference action.

"This was a hard-fought game on both sides," said sixth-year head coach Joe Alberici. "It lived up to its tradition of being a play here or a play there. Bucknell made them and deserved the victory."

A back-and-forth battle all game long, Bucknell seemed to capture the momentum in taking a 7-4 lead less than four minutes into the third quarter. The Black Knights did not back down, however, scoring three of the final four goals of the game.

"I was really proud of our guys, particularly in the second half," Alberici said. "They played with a lot of fire that I thought would have been deserving of a victory. We're going to put this one behind us quickly and focus on the next one."

Army out-shot the Bison by a 33-25 margin, while both teams picked up 28 ground balls. Army outshot Bucknell 11-3 in the final 15 minutes, but the Bison jumped on the shoulders of sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Feeney the rest of the way. Feeney made four of his 11 saves in the final period with all four coming in the final six minutes of action.

"He (Feeney) is a quick goalie and made some big saves, which I thought they fed off of late," Alberici noted. "I was proud of our guys and the pressure they were putting on the goal. They put themselves in position to win the game, but just came up a little short."

Sophomore attackman Chase Bailey paced the Bison with four points (2G, 2A). Army senior defenseman Bill Henderson marked Bucknell leading scorer Ryan Klipstein for much of the afternoon and held him to just two assists.

Penalties peppered the game on both sides, as Bucknell went 3 of 7 on extra-man chances and Army converted 2 of 5.

Army drew first blood as Boltus hit Thul for the pair's first score of the day. Thul solved Feeney low to high from close range at the 10:48 mark to give the Black Knights a 1-0 lead. The advantage stood for nearly seven minutes before Bucknell's Todd Heritage leveled the score with 3:36 remaining in the opening quarter. Army went on to enjoy a 2-1 edge after the first 15 minutes, as sophomore middie Pat Brennan took a feed from junior attackman Devin Lynch with 16 seconds to play for his first of two goals on the day.

Bucknell made its move in the second quarter, out-scoring Army 4-2 en route to a 5-4 halftime lead. It took just 44 seconds for the Bison to convert on a man-up opportunity to tie the score at 2-2 at the start of the second. Army answered two minutes later as Brennan gave the Black Knights a 3-2 lead on a 15-yard shot at the 12:15 mark. Bucknell went on to score three of the final four goals of the half. Army's lone tally came courtesy of Thul (7:47), who dodged towards the right post and beat his defender to knot the score at 4-4.

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