LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell head men’s lacrosse coach Frank Fedorjaka has announced the election of four seniors as team captains for the 2012 season: defenseman Jason Neithamer (Alexandria, Va./St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes), long-stick defensive midfielder John Scally (Short Hills, N.J./Delbarton), attack/midfielder Charlie Streep (New Canaan, Conn./Loomis-Chaffee) and former midfielder and current student assistant coach Tom Thibeault (Cockeysville, Md./Boys’ Latin). This quartet will captain a Bison squad that is coming off a 14-3 season that was highlighted by a Patriot League championship, a best-ever No. 7 national ranking, and a near-upset of Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.
Thibeault is an inspirational choice for team captain. Once a very promising midfielder out of the powerful Boys’ Latin program, Thibeault collapsed during a January 2010 workout at home with his sister Kendall, who at the time was a co-captain on the Bucknell women’s lacrosse team. After undergoing successful heart surgery to repair a ruptured aorta, Thibeault has made a strong recovery and has returned to school, but he can no longer participate in contact sports such as lacrosse.
Not long after surgery, Thibeault was back on the Bucknell sideline cheering on his teammates, and last season he was named a student assistant coach, where he remains an inspirational and integral part of the team. Now a senior, Thibeault will once again serve in that role, and he has been elected as one of the team’s captains for 2012.
“Thomas was a great player before he had heart surgery, and he has already been through more than most of us will have to endure in a lifetime,” said Fedorjaka. “His lacrosse IQ is exceptionally high, and he is a strong voice throughout practice and off the field. The team respects his opinion and looks up to him for how mentally and physically tough he has been.”
Streep has been one of the Patriot League’s top players over the last three years. A force from day one at Bucknell, Streep was the team’s second-leading scorer last season with 37 points on 28 goals and nine assists, and his outstanding junior season culminated with Honorable Mention All-America honors. Also a First Team All-Patriot League selection, Streep was at his best in the postseason. He was named Patriot League Tournament MVP after recording hat tricks in wins over Lehigh and Colgate, and then he scored three more goals against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.
Streep has already topped the 100-point plateau in his career with 104 points on 76 goals and 28 assists, and he is just 12 goals outside the Bucknell top-10. He will be looking to bounce back this spring after suffering a knee injury during fall workouts.
“Charlie is working hard to come back from surgery this fall and he is going through a lot right now,” said Fedorjaka. “His teammates respect that. Charlie is our most dynamic player on the team, and he is certainly respected for his ability by his teammates, but he also works very hard in the weight room and sells out on the field. He leads by example and is a very vocal leader in practice and in games.”
Scally has been one of Bucknell’s unsung stars over the last three years while playing the long-stick defensive midfield position. Not only is Scally a strong cover defender, but he is perhaps the best ground ball artist on the team. Last season he missed six games due to injury but still ranked fourth on the team with 30 ground balls, and he has 103 career GBs. Scally is particularly strong on the faceoff wings, and he is a major reason why Bucknell has been one of the top faceoff teams in the country over the last three seasons.
“John will take as many wings on the faceoff as possible this season,” Fedorjaka said. “He is the best wing man I have ever coached. John’s teammates feel comfortable with him, and he has the ability to communicate off the field and instill confidence in them.”
Like Streep and Scally, Neithamer has been a major contributor in each of his first three seasons at Bucknell. After starting out as a long-stick defensive middie, Neithamer was a Second Team All-Patriot League selection as a close defenseman in 2010. Last year he played both positions on a defensive unit that ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 7.2 goals per game.
“Jason can play both LSM and close defense, he can take the wings on faceoffs and stay in for clearing,” said Fedorjaka of the versatile Neithamer. “We are going to ask a lot of him this year. He has the ability to get on his teammates because he works very hard, is a great player and has earned his teammates’ respect.”
Bucknell returns seven starters and a number of key reserves from last year’s record-setting team. The 2012 campaign begins Feb. 11 at home against Delaware.