No. 18 Lehigh Tops #9 Bucknell for Patriot Regular Season Title

LEWISBURG, Pa. Dan Taylor scored three goals to help No. 18 Lehigh to an 11-7 victory over No. 9 Bucknell in a battle of Patriot League unbeatens on Friday night before 2,850 fans at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

Both teams came in with 4-0 conference records, and with the win the Mountain Hawks (9-4) clinched home-field advantage for the Patriot League Tournament. The Bison fell to 10-3 on the season with one more regular-season game coming up next week at Colgate.

Chase Bailey, one of 10 seniors honored before the game, scored three goals and David Dickson collected a pair of assists for the Bison, who were trying to lock up Patriot League Tournament hosting rights for the third time in the last five years. Freshman Sean Doyle and Brock Ghelfi also had multi-point nights with a goal and an assist.

This was a physical game right from the opening whistle, with plenty of hard hits and defensive takeaways levied by both sides. Bucknell jumped ahead early, going up 3-1 after one period on tallies by Ghelfi, Peter Burke and Bailey. The last of those goals came on a nice interior feed from Ghelfi to Bailey in a timer-on situation.

That would be Bucknell's last goal for the next 26 minutes of game action, however. Lehigh wrapped a 5-0 run around the halftime break to take the lead for good. Taylor's score with 11:05 left in the third quarter gave Lehigh a 6-3 lead.

Bailey pulled the Bison back within two when he finished a great pass from Dickson on the crease with 7:41 left in the third. The game's defining sequence took place over the next six minutes. Ryan Gutowski, who went 12 for 20 on faceoffs with eight ground balls, controlled the draw after the Bailey goal, with Jackson Place nabbing the ground ball.

Bucknell cleared and then proceeded to unleash 12 shots over the next 5:12. None of them found the back of the next, though, and after Lehigh goalie Matt Poillon picked off a Burke shot that was headed well wide, he walked the ball out of the crease and fired it the length of the field against the Bucknell 10-man ride. A Bison defender was there to intercept the ball at the opposite goal crease, but it eluded his stick and took one bounce into the open cage.

Bucknell seemed to be on the brink of narrowing the margin back to one, but the Poillon goal made it 7-4 Lehigh with 1:12 left in the third quarter. Todd Heritage got one back for the Bison with 34 seconds left in the period, but Lehigh scored an extra-man goal just six seconds into the fourth quarter to regain control.

The Bison outshot Lehigh 34-23 and edged the Mountain Hawks 36-34 in ground balls. Lehigh had 21 turnovers compared to 20 for Bucknell. Poillon finished with 12 saves, while Kyle Feeney had six to move past Bryan McAdam into fourth place on Bucknell's career saves list with 533.

Lehigh ended an eight-game road losing streak in the series, defeating the Bison in Lewisburg for the first time since 1998.

Dickson came into the game ranked third nationally in assists. He now has 38 on the year, which is second-most in program history and just two off the school record. Chris Cara had a record 40 assists in 2004.

Bucknell returns to action on Saturday, Apr. 20 at Colgate at noon. The contest will air live on CBS Sports Network.

The Patriot League Tournament will be held at Lehigh on Apr. 24 and 26. Bucknell's game time and opponent are still to be determined.

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LEWISBURG, Pa. - Lehigh clinched its first Patriot League regular season championship as the #18 Mountain Hawks downed #9 Bucknell, 11-7, Friday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. With the win, Lehigh's first in Lewisburg since 1998, the Mountain Hawks will host the Patriot League Tournament for the first time in school history Apr. 26 and 28.

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