---- — By The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- Fresh off last week's thrilling road wins over No. 2 Cornell and No. 20 Albany, the Bucknell men's lacrosse team has vaulted forward in the two major national polls. The 8-1 Bison are listed No. 6 in this week's Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, which is the highest ranking in a national poll in program history, and are also No. 7 in the USILA Coaches' Poll.
Bucknell will not have much time before putting those lofty rankings to the test, as No. 16/17 Penn State comes to Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. contest tonight.
Sophomore midfielder David Dickson and junior defenseman Jackson Place were two of the key players in those victories, and both were honored by the Patriot League on Monday. Dickson earned Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors, while Place was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week.
Last week Bucknell was ranked 15th in the USILA Poll and 16th in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Poll. But then the Bison stormed back from a 5-0 deficit to beat second-ranked Cornell 9-8 last Tuesday, and on Saturday they used a 14-goal second half to erase a three-goal deficit in an 18-12 win over Albany.
That vaulted them 10 spots in the media poll and eight in the coaches' poll. The No. 7 ranking in the coaches' poll ties Bucknell's high-water mark in that survey. The only other time the Bison were listed as high as No. 7 was in the final poll of the 2011 season, which was the year Bucknell won the Patriot League title and dropped a heartbreaker to eventual national champion Virginia in overtime in the NCAA Tournament.
Bucknell also received a first-place vote in the coaches' poll this week. The No. 6 ranking in the media poll is Bucknell's highest ranking in either of the two major polls.
Penn State has won three straight to improve to 5-3 on the season. The Nittany Lions are ranked 16th in the USILA Coaches' Poll and 17th in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll this week. They are coming off a 9-2 home win over Saint Joseph's on Saturday.
Jack Forster (16-6-22), T.J. Sanders (18-3-21) and Shane Sturgis (11-3-14) have done the bulk of the scoring for the Nittany Lions. Danny Henneghan takes all of the faceoffs for Penn State and has won 57.9 percent so far. The team also features an All-America goalie in Austin Kaut, who has a 9.01 goals-against average and .538 save percentage.
Bucknell and Penn State have met every year since 1968 -- Bucknell's first year of varsity lacrosse -- and the Nittany Lions have a 34-12 series lead. The Bison have won the last three, however, in what has been a very tightly contested matchup in recent years.
Bucknell won last season in State College, 9-6. Prior to that, each of the previous seven meetings had been one or two-goal games.
Following the Penn State game, the Bison will be home against on Saturday against Holy Cross, one of the most improved teams in the Patriot League. The Crusaders are 4-4 overall, including their first-ever win over Navy.