By Reed Dempsey
Heading into spring break, the Bison stood at 1-3 and were in desperate need of a string of wins that would help turn the season around. Playing Hobart, Drexel, Lafayette and Robert Morris over the past two weeks, the Orange and Blue were able to accomplish just this, reeling off four victories to place them back into the top 20 nationally.
Coming off their first win at Navy on March 3, the Bison looked to extend their streak as they faced Hobart at home on March 10. After a close quarter and half of play, the Orange and Blue exploded for four straight goals to take a 9-5 lead before halftime. The Bison were led by attackman Todd Heritage ’14, who tallied eight goals to tie a school record. Strong offensive performances by Chase Bailey ’13 (two goals, two assists), Billy Eisenreich ’12 (one goal, three assists) and Nick Gantsoudes ’12 (three goals) in addition to a 13-save effort by goalie Kyle Feeney ’13 propelled the Bison to a 14-10 win.
Just three days later, the Orange and Blue traveled to Philadelphia to face the Drexel Dragons. Four straight goals to open the game propelled the Bison to a 5-2 first quarter lead, but a strong second quarter effort by the Dragons in combination with a tough outing for Feeney brought the game to 7-7 with three minutes left in the first half.
After the game-tying goal, Feeney was pulled and replaced by keeper Sam Grinberg ’15. Facing an onslaught of shots from the Dragons, Grinberg was able to keep the Bison in the game with 11 saves over the final 33 minutes. After a 12-11 win, Feeney was glad to have a backup like Grinberg on a day when he was not performing at his optimal level.
“Having someone who can step in and win us a game like that as a freshman is unbelievable,” Feeney said.
With their record back at .500, the Bison looked to extend their three-game winning streak at home against Patriot League rival Lafayette on March 17. The game was never in doubt as the Bison defense held the Leopards to just six goals while the Bison offense unloaded in a 17-goal effort. The Bison were led by a seven–point game for Heritage (four goals, three assists), in addition to solid performances by Eisenreich (four goals, one assist) and Ronjohn Dadd ’13 (three goals) in his first performance of the season. Feeney rebounded from the game against Drexel with 9 saves.
Capping off the four-game stretch, the Bison welcomed Robert Morris to Lewisburg, one of only three teams to beat the Orange and Blue in 2011. The Colonials proved to be no match for the high-powered Bison offense that entered the game as the nation’s most accurate shooting team and sixth highest in scoring offense, averaging 12.6 goals per game.
With goals from seven different players, the Bison once again featured a balanced scoring attack that any team would have difficulty preparing for.
“[It] makes us very tough to scout and very tough to stop,” said Eisenreich, whose 11-point effort tied a school record.
The Orange and Blue could have increased their 17-10 lead in the closing minutes of the game as the Colonials racked up penalty minutes, but elected to run out the clock instead.
With the team at 5-3 and back in the national top-20 rankings, Heritage feels the Bison have finally hit their stride and are now feeling more confident with their play.
“We have been able to get to where we felt our team should of been from the beginning of the season. We are starting to understand exactly what we need to do to win and with five straight our confidence keeps building and we know we must stay mentally focused,” Heritage said.
The Orange and Blue look to continue their winning streak against Albany at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium tomorrow at 12 p.m.