SMITHFIELD, R.I. - The Bryant University men's lacrosse team looks to open 2018 with back-to-back victories when the Bulldogs welcome Bucknell to the Bryant Track & Turf Complex for a Saturday clash.
The Bulldogs and Bison are meeting for the sixth-consecutive season with Bucknell holding a 4-1 advantage. The teams last met in the second weekend of the 2017 campaign, as Bucknell erased an 8-5 deficit and scored the deciding goal with 11 seconds remaining.
Bryant's lone victory in the series came in 2014, when the Bulldogs picked off a No. 14/15 Bison team in Smithfield behind a four-point day from Tucker James. Saturday is the first meeting in Smithfield since that 2014 game, as the 2016 meeting was relocated to Taunton, Massachusetts, prior to the opening of the Conaty Indoor Athletic Center.
SCOUTING THE BISON
Bucknell picked up an 11-9 home win over Marist to open the season last Saturday, as Will Sands collected two goals and six assists on his way to Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors. Connor O'Hara added four goals for the Bison, who trailed 7-3 in the second quarter before taking control of the game.
Goalie Ben Clark played the final 43 minutes off the bench, making four saves and holding the Red Foxes to two goals.
BRYANT vs. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE
The Bulldogs have faced seven of the nine lacrosse-playing members of the Patriot League for a total of 20 games. The most frequent opponents are Bucknell and Holy Cross with five matchups each. Bryant will face two Patriot League foes during non-conference play, as Boston University visits Smithfield Feb. 27.
LAST TIME OUT: BRYANT 15, MANHATTAN 7
Freshman Marc O'Rourke (Hingham, Mass.) tallied three goals, two assists and three ground balls in his collegiate debut, while graduate student Kenny Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) was 19-of-24 from the X as Bryant won its season opener 15-7 over Manhattan (2/3).
BIG DEBUT FOR O'ROURKE
Freshman Marc O'Rourke had a five-point afternoon in the season-opening win over Manhattan (2/3). O'Rourke became the first Bryant freshman to score three goals in his debut in the Bulldogs' Division I era. The Massachusetts native added three ground balls.
MASSA EARNS USILA HONOR
Graduate student Kenny Massa was named to the USILA Team of the Week for his performance in the season-opening victory over Manhattan (2/3). Massa went 19-of-24 (.792) from the X and tied his career-high with 16 ground balls while scoring his first goal of the year.
Massa's .792 face-off percentage ranked third in the nation in the season's opening weekend.
Five Bulldogs recorded multi-goal games in the 15-7 win over Manhattan (2/3), as senior Cam Ziegler (Carlsbad, Calif.) and freshman Marc O'Rourke tallied three each, while junior Matt Heldberg (Kings Park, N.Y.), redshirt-sophomore Jake Buonaiuto (Miller Place, N.Y.) and freshman Austin Kent (Franklin, Mass.) had two apiece. It marked the first time since last year's season-opener against the Jaspers that five Bulldogs notched two goals each.
The contest marked the first-career multi-goal games for O'Rourke, Heldberg and Kent.
Senior goalie James Werner (New Rochelle, N.Y.) has allowed five goals or less in five of his 19 career starts, most recently in the season opener against Manhattan (2/3). Two of those efforts came in last year's NEC Tournament, as Werner held Robert Morris and Hobart to a combined seven goals and made 22 total saves on his way to conference tournament MVP honors.
CUP OF COFFEY
Sophomore Zach Coffey (West Newbury, Mass.) had a pair of caused turnovers and a ground ball in the win over Manhattan (2/3), marking the fourth time in 11 career games Coffey has tallied two or more caused turnovers.
BULLDOGS AMONG NEW ENGLAND'S BEST
Bryant has won 98 games since joining Division I in 2009 - the highest total of the 15 Division I lacrosse programs in the six New England states. The Bulldogs' .613 winning percentage over those 10 seasons ranks third in New England behind Yale (.674) and Brown (.626).
NEXT UP: PROVIDENCE
Bryant hits the road for the first time in 2018 with an eight-mile drive to Providence for an in-state battle Saturday with Providence. The 1 p.m. start can be seen in Rhode Island on Cox YurView (Channel 4 on Cox Cable in Rhode Island.)
Bryant University Athletics has announced the Spring Sports Pass for the upcoming spring season. The Spring Sports Pass allows admission to all home men's and women's lacrosse, baseball and softball events for just $50. The Spring Sports Pass can be purchased by clicking HERE.