Loyola Maryland has won four of five meetings in this series between Patriot League foes, but Bucknell claimed the last contest with a 10-9 overtime decision on April 17, 2015. The Bison have a better record on the road (3-1) than they do at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg, Pa. (2-2). The same applies to the Greyhounds who are 3-1 on the road and 2-2 at home.
Bucknell (5-3 overall and 2-2 conference) has won two of its last three games including a 13-6 upset of then-No. 16 Boston University a week ago. The Bison have the No. 9 man-down defense in Division I after killing off 76.2 percent (16-of-21) of opponents' extra-man opportunities. Freshman goalkeeper Christian Klipstein ranks eighth in the nation in save percentage (.567) and 20th in saves per game (10.6).
No. 17 Loyola (5-3, 2-1) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 10-7 victory at Georgetown on Wednesday. After an unusually quiet start, faceoff specialist Graham Savio enjoyed his best contest of the season against the Hoyas. The junior won a season-high 14 draws in 19 attempts and picked up a game-best five ground balls.
Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore on Saturday at 1 p.m.
1) Getting offensive. The win at Georgetown was punctuated by a career-high four goals from junior attackman Jordan Germershausen – all of which occurred thanks to feeds from freshman attackman Pat Spencer (twice), junior midfielder Brian Sherlock and sophomore midfielder Jay Drapeau. The crisp passing was a reminder of how effective Loyola can be as the offense finished with six assists.
"I was proud of Germey today," coach Charley Toomey said after the game, referring to Germershausen's nickname. "When we bop the ball around and we play offense the way we know we're capable, we can score some easy goals. He happened to be in the right place at the right time, and we played fast at times, and that was the result. So I'm proud of our effort, but we realize that Loyola has a bit of a ways to go before we can be a real contender in this league."
2) Getting defensive. Georgetown was only able to string together two goals as Loyola's defense disrupted the offense with well-timed stick checks and physical play. But the Hoyas' last two goals came from players in front of the net converting slick feeds from the perimeter, and the lapses in the interior defense caught Toomey's attention.
"They got some alley dodges, and we slid, and we just didn't firm up the inside, and they exposed that," he said. "… I think they exposed us on the inside and scored on some easy shots where it's tough to look at your goalie and say, 'You've got to make that save.' So those are things we're going to hopefully in the next two days continue to hammer at."
3) Getting clears. Loyola ranks 10th in the country in clears, compiling an 89.8 success rate (114-of-127). But the team misfired on 2-of-8 clears in the first half, forcing the coaches to ask the short-sticks to cross the midline to be bigger targets for their defensive teammates. Clears are usually an issue against Bucknell, which is one of the few teams that employs a 10-man ride and has allowed opponents to clear the ball just 81.5 percent (119-of-146) thus far.
"We know what we've got coming Saturday to Loyola," Toomey said. "That's a team that loves to 10-man. So we're going to have to continue to clean that up."