January 25, 2012

Bucknell Tops Patriot League Preseason Men's Poll

Colgate's Baum, Army's Henderson earn individual honors

from press release

Bucknell senior attackman Billy Eisenreich (above) and Charlie Streep were Bucknell's top two scorers in 2011 and return in 2012.

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Coming off an impressive 14-3 season, an undefeated run through the Patriot League and an overtime loss to eventual national champion Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the defending Patriot League Champion Bucknell Bison topped the 2012 preseason men's lacrosse poll, it was announced Wednesday morning during the League's annual men's lacrosse media teleconference.

Bucknell claimed the No. 1 position with the maximum 72 points and 12 first-place votes. The Bison finished 18 points ahead of second-place Army, which collected 54 points and the remaining two first-place ballots. 2011 runner-up Colgate took a close third with 52 points, while Lehigh was next in fourth with 44 points. Taking fifth was Navy with 38 points, while Lafayette (19 points) and Holy Cross (15) rounded out the poll in sixth and seventh, respectively.

Colgate junior Peter Baum was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Army senior Tim Henderson was tabbed as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Voting was conducted by the League's head coaches and sports information directors who could not vote for their own teams or student-athletes.

Baum is the League's second-highest returning goal scorer form last season, as he tallied 34 markers. His average of 2.12 goals per game was third-best in the League. His 34 goals, 15 assists and 49 points in 2011 were all career highs for the junior out of Portland, Ore. He scored at least one point in all 16 games in which he played. He tallied a season-high six goals in a 13-8 victory over Dartmouth Feb. 26. A two-time First-Team All-Patriot League honoree, Baum was a top-25 finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy last season and earned Honorable Mention All-America recognition from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA).

Henderson, a senior, has been a contributor for Army ever since his freshman season and has improved steadily since. Generally regarded as the best long-stick midfielder in the League, Henderson, like Baum, earned Honorable Mention All-America status from the USILA after the 2011 season. He played in all 15 of the Black Knights' contests last season with five goals and three assists for eight points. He collected 45 ground balls, which were the second-highest on the team, and one of his five markers was a game-winner. He was named First-Team All-Patriot League for the second year in a row and has been an All-League performer all three years at Army, as he was a second-team selection in 2009.

Bucknell's top two returning scorers are scheduled to return in 2012 in seniors Charlie Streep and Billy Eisenreich, though Streep suffered a knee injury during the fall and is targeting a return in the middle of March. Streep finished second on the Bison with 28 goals and 37 points a season ago, while Eisenreich scored 19 goals with 15 assists for 34 points. Both players have garnered national attention, as Eisenreich was chosen 21st overall in the recent Major League Lacrosse Draft by the Ohio Machine, while Streep was drafted 52nd by the Long Island Lizards. The Bison owned the League's best team goals-against-average at 7.19, nearly a full goal ahead of second-place Army, and are bolstered in net by junior keeper Kyle Feeney, who played over 970 minutes with a 7.24 GAA last season and earned Second-Team All-League laurels. The Bison, who are under the guidance of reigning Patriot League Coach of the Year Frank Fedorjaka, finished No. 7 in last season's final USILA Coaches Poll.

Army is looking to improve upon last year's 9-6 result and 4-2 mark in the Patriot League. The Black Knights closed last season with two straight losses, the first a 7-6 decision to Colgate in the semifinals of the League Tournament and the second a 15-10 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Johns Hopkins. For the first time in five years Army will enter the season without Jeremy Boltus, one of the top players in Army and Patriot League history, but the Black Knights are bolstered by the League's top returning goal scorer in Garrett Thul, who had 42 markers a year ago. Seniors Devin Lynch (14g, 8a) and Conor Hayes (12g, 2a) look to provide offensive depth for Army while senior Larry LoRusso will aid in the leadership on defense with Henderson.

There is a pair of new faces among the head coaching ranks in the Patriot League, and the first is at Colgate, where former Army assistant Mike Murphy takes over for his first season. Colgate finished 2011 with an 11-5 record and was ranked No. 12 in the last USILA Coaches Poll of last season. Murphy goes to Hamilton, N.Y., after spending the last eight seasons at West Point, including the last six under current Black Knight coach Joe Alberici. In addition to Baum, the Raiders feature senior Jeff Ledwick, one of the team's three co-captains, as a top returning offensive threat (12g, 3a), while senior Jared Madison will man the goal again. Madison finished third in the League in GAA (8.13) and save percentage (.539) while collecting a League-best 151 saves.

Lehigh qualified for the Patriot League Tournament last season for the first time since 2006, and the Mountain Hawks enter the 2012 campaign looking for bigger and better things. Lehigh finished last season 7-9 overall and fell 13-5 to top-seeded Bucknell the semifinals of the tournament. Head coach Kevin Cassese has five of his top six point getters back from last year, including a pair of juniors in David DiMaria (22g, 30a) and Dante Fantoni (33g, 14a). Junior Ryan Snyder broke the Patriot League single-season record with 118 ground balls and was named First-Team All-League as a face-off specialist.

The second team in the League to feature a new face on the sidelines is Navy. Rick Sowell was introduced in June as the eighth coach in the over 100-year history of Midshipmen men's lacrosse after guiding Stony Brook to back-to-back regular-season titles in the America East, and takes over a club that missed the League Tournament last season for the first time since joining the conference in 2004. Navy finished 4-9 and 2-4 in the League and is looking for brighter days in 2012. The team boasts the reigning Rookie of the Year in Tucker Hull, who tied for the team lead with 38 points and netted a team-best 23 goals. Senior RJ Wickham played 764 minutes in goal last season for the Mids with 114 saves and a 9.26 GAA.

Terry Mangan returns for his 10th season as the head coach at Lafayette. The Leopards will try to regain their form from 2010, when they qualified for the League Tournament for the first time in school history and Mangan was named Coach of the Year. There will be opportunities for players to step up for the Leopards, as the team's top two scorers from last season in Tom Perini (29g) and Stefan Bauer (11g, 13a) graduated last spring. Freshman Andrijko Andrusko was strong in net for the Leopards a year ago, playing over 580 minutes with a 9.60 GAA, 101 saves and a .521 save percentage. Senior Colin Serling (11g, 10a) is the team's top returning scorer from last year. Lafayette finished 2-11 a year ago but lost one-goal contests to nationally-ranked Penn, Army and Colgate and fell by three to League champion Bucknell.

Holy Cross has the third new head coach this season, though he was on the sidelines for the Crusaders in 2011. Jim Morrissey began last year as an assistant before moving into the role of interim head coach six games into the season. Holy Cross went 2-7 in his tenure, and the interim tag was removed during the offseason. All five of the Crusaders' top scorers are back from last season, led by juniors James Kennedy (20g, 13a) and John Hannan (21g, 2a). Three seniors - Colin McGeehin, Andrew Morici and Matt Boylan - provide offensive depth for Holy Cross, which will also look for steady improvements on defense and in net.

The 2012 season kicks off Friday, Feb. 10 when Army hosts Massachusetts at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., at 3 p.m. Four other Patriot League teams will open their respective campaigns one day later on Saturday, Feb. 11. Navy will host VMI at 12 p.m., Colgate will entertain Bryant at 1 p.m., Bucknell welcomes Delaware at 1 p.m. and Lehigh opens at Saint Joseph's at 2 p.m.

Holy Cross and Lafayette will start their slates a week later on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Crusaders open at St. John's at 1 p.m., while Lafayette entertains Providence at 3:30 p.m.

The Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Tournament is set for Friday/Sunday, April 27/29, and will be hosted by the team that posted the best League record during the regular season. For the fourth straight year, all three games of the tournament will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network. The winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Friday's semifinal games will be at 5 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., while Sunday's championship is set for 3 p.m.

2012 Patriot League Preseason Men's Lacrosse Poll

1. Bucknell - 72 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Army - 54 (2)
3. Colgate - 52
4. Lehigh - 44
5. Navy - 38
6. Lafayette - 19
7. Holy Cross - 15

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year - Peter Baum, Colgate, Jr.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year - Tim Henderson, Army, Sr.

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