Bison beat men’s lacrosse in final Patriot League game of the season

Sophomore+attacker+Charlie+Cunniffe+passes+the+ball+in+part+of+his+six+goal%2C+eight+point+performance+against+Bucknell.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards%29

Sophomore attacker Charlie Cunniffe passes the ball in part of his six goal, eight point performance against Bucknell. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The men’s lacrosse team (4-10 overall, 1-7 Patriot League) fell to Bucknell by three points last Friday in their penultimate game of the season. 

“The coaching staff put a great plan together to face Bucknell and it really paid off,” sophomore attacker Peter Lehman said. 

Sophomore midfielder John Mathes kicked off the game by netting the Leopard’s first goal, but the Bison responded with a goal of their own.

“I think the team did well bouncing back from the week prior against Navy,” Mathes said. “Bucknell has an experienced defense…and being able to have success against them was a credit to the great week of practice we had.”

The duo of Lehman and sophomore attacker Charlie Cunniffe then worked to pull the Leopards back into the lead. Lehman netted another goal to bring the score to 2-1, which was answered by two more goals from Bucknell. Cunniffe then netted two goals, assisted by senior midfielder Cole Dutton and Mathes, respectively.

“The offensive end of the field shared the ball really well. When we play together and collectively as a team, we really put forth a great effort on the field,” Lehman said. 

Lafayette ended the first quarter leading by one. Cunniffe credited the defensive duo of junior Sean Rushton and freshman Cade Kilbride for making good stops, running the field in transition and getting the ball to the attack.

Sophomore midfielder Connor Freeman initiated the second period with a goal. Bucknell netted two goals before sophomore attacker Kalman Kraham sunk one off of a tricky angle. The Bison then scored four more goals, making the score 9-6 going into halftime. 

Cunniffe said that in the beginning of the year, the team had struggled to come out hot in the third quarter. The Leopards were able to reconvene this game during the half and go on a run right out of halftime.

“[Lehman] had three straight goals, which is really awesome and really sparked us in the second half,” Cunniffe said.

Lehman’s second goal of the quarter was assisted by Cunniffe, marking his sixth hat trick of the season. Lehman’s third goal of the period was also his thirtieth of the season, and tied the game at nine.

Lehman attributed his success to the level of teamwork that has been displayed this season.

“Everyone’s sharing the ball and buying into their role, which is a great thing to see and something that we can continue to build on going forward,” Lehman said. “It’s always fun to see a lot of guys getting on the stat sheet.”

Bucknell regained the lead within the next five minutes with four goals until Cunniffe and Mathes put a stop to the Bison’s scoring rally. Mathes first assisted Cunniffe and then followed by scoring his twenty-fifth goal of the season. 

“Seeing our attack have success was awesome. The offense ran a lot through them, and we were able to get great opportunities and put goals on the board because of them,” Mathes said. 

Bucknell netted another goal to leave the third quarter three points in the lead and began the fourth period with another to bring the score to 15-11. The Lehman-Cunniffe duo put an end to Lafayette’s scoring drought once again with Lehman’s fifth goal and Cunniffe’s second assist of the game. 

“Our coach called it the prettiest play of the game, where Kilbride came down, threw the ball to Rushton, threw the ball to me and then I threw it to [Lehman],” Cunniffe said. “We’ve practiced that hundreds of times so it was really cool to see that translate into the game.”

Both sides scored four more goals each within the remainder of the game. Freeman claimed one of these final goals, Cunniffe securing the remaining three. Despite Lafayette’s efforts, the game ended 19-16 in favor of the Bison.

Cunniffe and Lehman led the team in goals, with Cunniffe totaling six and Lehman five. Freeman and Mathes both ended the game with two. Freshman goalkeeper Gabe Cummins secured eleven saves for the Leopards.

Both Lehman and Cunniffe credited the seniors for their commitment to the team during their final season at Lafayette.

“Credit to all the older guys always bringing the energy keeping us dialed throughout the game,” Lehman said.

“The seniors are definitely some of my best friends. They have been an amazing support to all of us on and off the field,” Cunniffe said. “They’re always there for us, they play really hard, and they were the start of turning our program around. They’re leaving a really strong legacy which is really cool to see.”