LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell University freshman Julianne Valdes (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) scored a game-high three goals and goalkeepers Brittany Connell (Montebello, Calif./Montebello) and Rena Heim (Mohnton, Pa./Governor Mifflin) combined for 11 saves as the Bison women's water polo team defeated Gannon University, 11-1, Saturday afternoon at Kinney Natatorium during the Bison Invitational. The win helped Bucknell improve to 2-0 on the young season, marking the third time in the last four years they have won their first two contests.
The Bison defense was the key to the game as it yielded its fewest goals to an opponent since a 14-1 win over Mercyhurst in February 2009. Bucknell recorded 14 steals in the contest, while Connell posted five saves in the first half and Heim, making her first career appearance, recorded six second-half stops and did not allow a goal.
Thanks to five second-quarter goals, the Bison built an 8-1 halftime cushion. Interim head coach Paul Rave then played many different lineups in the second half, leading to just three more scores, including none in the fourth quarter.
Valdes, who followed her Friday evening four-goal performance against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps with another solid outing, tallied the final two scores of the first half to stretch the Bucknell lead from 6-1 to 8-1. She now has a team-high 10 points through two games.
Junior Amanda Skonezney (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) and freshman Heather Smith (Redwood City, Calif./Sacred Heart) tallied two goals apiece, rounding out the list of multiple goal scorers for the Bison. Nine of the team's 11 goals were scored by freshmen or sophomores.
Bucknell was able to convert just 1 of 7 six-on-five opportunities, while Gannon (0-1) was 0-for-3.
Kelsey Rzymek scored the Golden Knights' lone goal early in the second quarter, but the Bison quickly answered with two goals in the following 47 seconds to extend their lead to 6-1.
Release courtesy Bucknell Athletic Communications