LEWISBURG, Pa. – Senior attack Kyle Smith recorded a hat trick in a defensive battle at Bucknell; however, the UMass men’s lacrosse team was unable to secure the contest, falling to the Bison, 7-4 on Saturday afternoon. Freshman midfielder Andrew Sokol added one goal at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium while junior attack Connor Mooney recorded two points on a pair of assists. Senior attack Bobby Tyler secured one helper for UMass, adding to his team-leading nine assists on the year.
The Minutemen broke the scoreless tie in the second with 13:18 to play in the quarter. Junior midfielder Matt Whippen caused a turnover, scooped up the groundball in the defensive end and sent a pass to Mooney, who raced up-field to clear the play. As Mooney rushed toward the Bucknell net, the junior midfielder found Sokol at the doorstep, with Sokol dropping a bounce shot by Bucknell goalie Kyle Feeney.
Mooney was instrumental in setting up the second Minuteman mark only 3:55 later, with Smith netting the first of three tallies on the day. Mooney rolled around the back of the Bucknell goal and sent a pass to Smith at the crease, with Smith placing an attempt low and into the left side of the net to double the lead. The two-goal advantage held into halftime as the Minutemen stifled a Bison possession that spanned the final 2:40 of the second quarter.
Bucknell cut its deficit in half at the 9:49 mark of the third before evening the contest at two with 8:08 remaining in the quarter on a pair of goals by Thomas Flibotte. The Bison added a tally by Chase Bailey with 5:49 to play in the third to take the lead, 3-2.
However, Smith responded with his second mark of the day with 2:31 left. Tyler sent a pass to Smith in front of the Bucknell goal, with Smith converting the attempt as a trio of Bison defenders knocked the senior to the ground.
With a 3-3 tie entering the fourth, the Bison went ahead, 4-3 on a tally from Sean Doyle before the freshman attack added another for a two-goal advantage with 12:22 remaining in the contest.
UMass responded with a goal in transition following a Bucknell turnover. After the Bison lost a play out of bounds, the Minutemen pushed the ball toward the Bucknell net at a sprint, with sophomore attack Grant Whiteway finding Smith in front for the hat trick.
However, after Smith dropped the deficit to 5-4 following the pass from Whiteway with 8:33 to play, Bucknell notched a pair of goals to end scoring in the contest. Ryan Joseph tallied the sixth Bison mark of the game with 6:22 remaining before Flibotte made it 7-4 at the 1:24 mark.
During the scoreless first quarter, the best Minuteman chance to convert came on their first possession, as Smith found space eight yards from the net and had an attempt deflect off of the crossbar with 13:45 to play. Oliveri notched four saves during the opening stanza to help keep Bucknell without a goal. Oliveri notched a pair of stops during one Bison possession, blocking the first aside on a Peter Burke attempt with 11:23 remaining. After Bucknell recovered the loose ball, Brock Ghelfi tested Oliveri, with the redshirt-freshman turning aside the second on-target attempt at the 10:29 mark.
Bucknell led in shots, 36-25 while the groundball battle was tied at 28-28. Turnovers were also knotted between the squads, 14-14 while the Minutemen finished 12-of-15 on clears and Bucknell went 17-for-23. Junior midfielder Joe Calvello won seven of the 13 faceoffs for the Minutemen. Neither squad converted on a pair of man-up situations each. Feeney ended with 14 saves in net for the Bison.
Mooney added a trio of caused turnovers among 11 created by UMass on the day. A trio of Minutemen led the way with four groundballs in Oliveri, Smith and senior midfielder Brett Tobin.
The Minutemen open Colonial Athletic Association play with their next contest, hosting No. 13 Penn State (2-2) at Noon on Saturday, March 16.