EASTON, Pa. – With 19:59 remaining in the second half, Bucknell held a comfortable 13-6 lead over the Lafayette women’s lacrosse team on Wednesday evening at Fisher Stadium. But there was plenty of fight left in the Leopards, who scored six straight goals to pull within one at 13-12 with 6:52 on the clock.
However, their 12th would be their last as Bucknell held on over the final seven minutes to fend off the comeback bid by a final of 13-12. The Leopards drop to 4-6 on the year and 1-2 in league play, while the surprising Bison, who were picked to finish ninth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll, improve to 8-3 and 2-1 in conference action.
“It’s important that we don’t get into these holes early because we can make runs,” head coach Alison Fisher said. “We need to make runs when it’s a one-or-two goal game where we can take or extend the lead, rather than digging out of a 4-or-5-or-6 goal deficit. We have a potent offense when we get going, so it’s just important for us going forward to keep the game tight until we have that opportunity.”
Wednesday’s contest was a game of runs as Bucknell started strong, jumping out to a 4-0 lead at the 16:51 mark. Freshman Emma Novick’s unassisted tally at 11:48 in the first finally lit the board on the home side and sparked a run of three of the next four for the Leopards that made it 5-4 in Bucknell’s favor with 4:02 remaining in the half.
Emily Becker finished a Christina Manis feed late for the visitors and the game moved into the break with the Bison up two, 6-4.
The teams traded goals at the beginning of the second as a Bucknell score 39 seconds into the half was countered by an unassisted marker from Maggie Carver less than a minute in. However, a Bucknell run again put Lafayette on its heels as four-in-a-row pushed the edge to six at 11-5 with 24:23 on the clock.
Novick’s free-position ended the run, but two more Bison scores pushed the edge to its largest of the game at 13-6 with 19:59 to play. That was when Lafayette started rolling.
A string of six goals over less than 13 minutes of game action, including four from junior Kirsten Wilhelmsen pulled the Leopards within one late. Unfortunately, a pair of saves from Bucknell’s Jamie DeWitt and a costly turnover with less than a minute to go sealed Lafayette’s fate as time ran out on a 13-12 defeat.
Sophomore Anna Raymond was a stalwart between the pipes, making eight saves in the loss. Wilhelmsen scored a team-high five goals, while Novick and Maggie Carver each chipped in with two apiece.
“Ultimately, we just knew we had to dig out of the hole and it was important that we build off of a big goal from Mairead [Janzer],” Wilhelmsen added. “Moving the ball quickly was our goal and sometimes we just got caught up holding it too long. We love the 1v1 challenge, it was open, but we just didn’t go hard enough in the beginning.”
Bucknell led in shots, 30-20, partly due to a 16-11 edge in draw controls. Ground balls were 18-15 in favor of the visitors, but Lafayette converted on its free-position opportunities, going 5-for-7. The Leopards cleared 19-of-20 on the night and turnovers were fairly even with Bucknell edging out the Maroon and White, 16-17.
Lafayette looks to carry the end-of-game momentum into the start of its next contest on Saturday, when it battles American in Washington, D.C. at 1 p.m.