Army Lacrosse Preview: First Look at the 2019 Season
Let’s not pretend. The Army Men’s Lacrosse team disappointed in 2018. Coming off a 12-4 season in 2017 that saw wins over highly ranked teams from both Syracuse and Notre Dame, a second-place finish in the Patriot League tournament, a top-20 finish overall, and a very narrow miss on the NCAA Championship Tournament, most observers expected Army to be not just good but great in 2018. The program looked to be in excellent position with a heaping handful of returning key contributors on both sides of the field. Army was expected to again vie for the Patriot League title and to perhaps push deep into the NCAA tournament, too.
Alas, the season went off the rails just as the Black Knights entered Patriot League play. Army beat UMass, NJIT, and even mighty Rutgers to open the season, and they lost to perennial NCAA powerhouse Syracuse by a single goal. However, they then dropped games to Patriot League mid-carders Lehigh, Colgate, and Bucknell, and it seemed as if they never regained their swagger. Offensive production fell off a cliff as the season wore on, and honestly, it got a little hard to watch. The team kept getting multi-goal leads heading into halftime, only to fail to sustain offensive production. The Black Knights finished a disappointing but basically respectable 5-8, but they went just 2-6 in the Patriot League. With that, they missed the League Tournament for the first time since its inception in 2005.
Our captains for the 2019 season on the core values of Army West Point Lacrosse. #FamilyToughnessTradition
Take a look 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/xKyMHHwO5H
— Army M.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) May 24, 2018
Army should be better in 2019, especially on defense, but they will need to find a way to manufacture more offense. Firstie Captain Johnny Surdick will be arguably the team’s most important leader. Surdick was named First Team All-Patriot League on Defense in 2018, and he also made multiple All-American Honorable Mention lists as well. Fellow Firstie Captain Nate Jones also returns, as does goalie AJ Barretto. Jones led the team in scoring last season with 23 goals; Barretto averaged just 8.2 goals against with a 50.5% save rate.
Folks, an Army team that’s allowing just 8 goals/game really ought to win nearly all its games.
But these guys have some big holes to fill, too. They lost standout Attacker Connor Glancy and Midfielder David Symmes to graduation, along with ace Face-Off specialist John Ragno. Symmes made my all-time favorite lacrosse play in overtime to beat Notre Dame in 2017. All three are guys that the Black Knights can’t just replace with the “next man up,” and though Jones returns to lead the Attack, Army’s leader at Midfield remains an open question.
2017: A Look Back
— ArmyWestPoint Sports (@GoArmyWestPoint) December 29, 2017
Sam Somers set the #NCAALAX single season record for goals against average in 2014. The @ArmyWP_MLax goaltender allowed just 5.44 goals per game (51 goals against in 563 minutes played).#TBT pic.twitter.com/nvXW0YH2ax
— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAALAX) January 4, 2019
Army will probably be better in 2019, but it’s hard to see how this isn’t something of a rebuilding season overall. If the team can stabilize its offense and find a way to consistently win face-offs, then it can almost certainly get back into the Patriot League tournament. However, it might be a lot to ask for them to get into the NCAA Championship Tournament. Though not impossible, they’d need to be near-perfect given the weakness of this season’s out-of-conference schedule.
The Army-Navy game and the home game against Loyola will both be on CBS Sports, as will the Patriot League Tournament games. The rest are usually on the Patriot League Network, available via Stadium. Unfortunately, the Stadium app can be kind of a pain in the ass. It doesn’t offer Chromecast support, unlike the old PatriotLeague.TV, and its corporate overlords frequently underestimate the demand for bandwidth for Army games. But Stadium is free and widely available, so what can you do?
If you have a smart TV, it’s fairly easy to stream Stadium via your browser. If you don’t, you may have to Chromecast a live tab to your television, which is a pain but well worth the effort. Army games are also generally available via the Army Sports Radio Network.
— Army M.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) January 8, 2019
2019 Army Men’s Lacrosse Schedule
February 9 – at UMass. Army beat a good UMass team last year 18-6. UMass went on to finish 12-5, 5-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), and made it to the NCAA tournament. They lost to eventual NCAA champion Yale 15-13 in the tournament’s opening round.
As openers go, this will be a good one to gauge Army’s progress.
February 16 – at Rutgers. Army beat Rutgers 9-7 last year. The Scarlet Knights finished 9-6 but just 2-3 in the Big-10. They were still somehow ranked 11th nationally heading into the NCAA tournament and are widely considered to be a perennial powerhouse.
February 19 – Marist. The Red Foxes finished 3-12 in 2018 and just 2-4 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
February 23 – at Syracuse. Army shocked Syracuse in the dome in 2017, but they lost a close game last year, 10-11. The ‘Cuse went on to the NCAA tournament ranked 8th but lost in the opening round to Cornell. They finished the season just 8-7 overall but 4-0 in a very competitive ACC.
March 2 – Lafayette. The Lafayette game starts Army’s Patriot League slate. Last year, the Black Knights won 13-4. The Leopards finished 3-13 overall and just 0-8 in the Patriot League.
March 9 – at Lehigh. Army dropped last year’s game 7-9. Lehigh finished 10-7, 5-3 in the Patriot League.
March 12 – at Binghamton. The game at Binghamton will be the first ever meeting between these schools. It also marks a rare mid-season break from conference play. The Bearcats finished 4-11 in 2018, 1-5 in the America East Conference.
March 16 – at Holy Cross. Back to League play. Army beat the Crusaders 5-3 last year. Holy Cross finished 4-9, 2-6 in the Patriot League.
March 23 – Colgate. This was a tough loss last year, 6-8. The Red Raiders finished just 7-8 overall and 3-5 in the Patriot League.
March 30 – at Bucknell. Again, Army dropped a winnable game to the Bison by a score of 7-10. But Bucknell is a rising power. They finished 11-4 last year, 7-1 in League play. That put them third in the conference.
April 6 – Boston University. Another heartbreaker. Army dropped the game 7-8. BU finished 8-8 overall, 3-5 in the Patriot League. They’re usually better than that.
April 13 – at Navy. This will be the 100th all-time meeting. Army dropped an incredible heartbreaker at Michie Stadium last year 8-9 in front of maybe fifteen thousand fans. My kids and I were in the stands.
Army has beaten the Mids several times recently in Patriot League Tournament play, but it’s been a good long while since they won a Star Match. A good goal for this year’s Army Team is therefore to BEAT NAVY!
The Mids finished 9-5 in 2018, 7-1 in the Patriot League. They wound up as the League runners-up.
April 20 – Loyola. The Grayhounds are the perennial Patriot League powerhouse. They beat Army 8-12 last year, in a season in which folks were talking about Army “finally getting over the hump” against the defending conference bullies. Loyola finished 13-4 in 2018, 7-1 in the Patriot League. They went into the NCAA Tournament ranked 6th and beat Virginia in the opening round. They then lost in the quarterfinals to Yale 8-5.
April 26 – at NJIT. Army beat the Highlanders 14-5 in 2018. NJIT finished 1-15 last season as an Independent. Their sole win came on Senior Day against Hampton University.
— US Lacrosse Magazine (@USLacrosseMag) December 13, 2018
— Army M.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) December 13, 2018
Army Women’s Lacrosse
It’s a little harder to know what to expect from Army Women’s Lacrosse. The Women’s team has only been a full Division I Corps Squad sport since 2016, and though my sense is that the team is well-coached and rapidly improving, it’s not at all easy to build a competitive D-I team up out of the Club system.
— Army WP W.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_WLax) January 19, 2019
The Women’s game is more aerobically athletic but less physical than the Men’s, and it’s played on a larger field. Unfortunately, the Women don’t wear helmets or pads, so they’re not allowed to body-check. I’m not sure why the women don’t hit, but this particular change does not favor Army—at all. Every time I’ve watched the Army Women play, I’ve thought, “If these girls could hit, they’d be a much better team.” Most D-I women’s college teams have fantastic ball-handlers. I’m hardly an expert, but it always looks to me like the Army Women want to play a more physical, less finesse-based game. That’s on-theme for warrior-athletes, but it has yet to produce a winning season.
The Women’s game at Navy will be on the CBS Sports Network, starting at noon.
— Army WP W.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_WLax) December 19, 2018