PRINCETON, N.J. -- Brian Barron (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick) returned to the Bison lineup for the first time since mid-October and netted a team-high four goals to lead the No. 19 Bucknell University men's water polo team to an 18-9 victory over Mercyhurst College in the its opening game at the Southern Championship at Princeton University's DeNunzio Pool. Julian Colina (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic) added three goals and a team-high four assists to notch a team-high seven points in the winning effort.
The Bison, who are seeded third in the 11-team field, came out slow against sixth-seeded Mercyhurst (13-9), their first unranked opponent since Oct. 15. Bucknell (11-8) led just 9-6 at halftime, but proceeded to outscore the Lakers 7-0 in the third quarter to take a commanding 16-6 advantage heading into the final period.
Six different Bison posted multi-goal games as Nick Barnett (Houston, Texas/Clear Lake) tallied three scores, while Jack Else (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn), Stephen Norton (Boynton beach, Fla./Saint Andrew's School) and Mike Kimble (Lafayette, Calif./Acalanes) added two apiece, joining Barron and Colina. Those six played piled up 16 of Bucknell's 18 goals in its highest scoring output since defeating Harvard 18-8 in mid-September.
Barron, the Bison's second-leading scorer with 32 goals entering the contest, had missed the last four games with an injury, but he made an immediate impact in the lineup as he added two steals to go along with his four goals.
Matt Napleton (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick) was solid in goal for Bucknell, registering six saves against six goals allowed in his three quarters of play. Freshman backup Keegan Williams (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo School) played the fourth quarter after the Bison built their large lead.
Napleton's cause was helped by a strong defense in front of him that totaled 15 steals. Ten different Bison posted at least one steal, led by three by Andrew Somers (Saint Davids, Pa./The Haverford School).
Bucknell will play 10th-seeded Pennsylvania State University-Behrend Saturday at 11:20 a.m. If the Bison win that game they will advance to the evening semifinals and clinch a spot in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship for a 12th consecutive year. Bucknell, which snapped a five-game losing streak Friday, is aiming to get back to the Southern Division Championship title game for a second straight year.
Release courtesy Bucknell Athletic Communications