ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Bucknell University men’s water polo team is peaking at the right time. The Bison, who recently lost 11 times in a 13-game span, have now won three in a row and will play Princeton University for the Southern Championship title on Sunday. On Saturday, Bucknell defeated Mercyhurst College 11-7 and No. 15-nationally ranked host Navy 13-12 to advance to the Southern Championship title contest.
Bucknell (12-13) is the host school for the Eastern Championship, which will be held later this month at Kinney Natatorium. The Bison needed at least a top-four finish at the Southern Championship to earn a berth in the Eastern Championship field and Bucknell secured that with its game-one win over the Lakers.
The Bison senior class led the way on Saturday as Richie Hyden (Melbourne, Australia/Greenwich (Conn.)) and Howie Kalter (Durham, N.H./Phillips Academy Andover) combined for five goals and six assists in the win over Mercyhurst. Hyden totaled two goals and four assists, while Kalter posted three goals and a pair of assists.
Bucknell led the Lakers just 5-4 at halftime, but outscored them 4-1 in the third quarter.
In the nightcap against the Mids, who defeated the Bison in two regular-season meetings, Kalter scored a season-high five goals, while Hyden dished out four more assists. Additionally, classmate Sean Coghlan (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice) posted a season-high four goals and equaled his career high with six ejections drawn.
Another senior, goalie Miles Gilhuly (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte), posted a season high-tying 10 saves against Navy. That was after a four-save performance in the first half of the Mercyhurst contest.
The Bucknell-Navy game was close throughout as the Bison led by one goal after the first quarter, the score was tied at halftime and then Bucknell held a two-goal advantage through three periods. The Bison went up 13-11 on a goal by Kalter with 5:01 and then held on for the victory as Navy’s final score came on a penalty shot with 12 seconds left on the clock.
Bucknell is the first team outside of Princeton to defeat Navy at the Southern Championships. The Mids had been 53-5 at the event since its inception in 1993. They were 43-0 all-time against teams other than the Tigers.
Bucknell’s current three-game winning streak is its second-longest of the season. The Bison have beaten two top-15 teams during the streak in No. 11 UC Davis and No. 15 Navy. Bucknell, which is tied for 17th in the national rankings with Princeton, will face another ranked opponent on Sunday when they battle the Tigers.
By advancing to Sunday’s championship game, Bucknell has guaranteed a top-two finish at the Southern Championship. The Bison last played in a championship game in 1998 and they have never won a Southern Championship title.
Bucknell, which is seeded fourth in the 10-team field, and Princeton, which is the second seed, will square off on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Bison were 1-2 against the Tigers during the regular season.
Release courtesy Bucknell Athletic Communications