Army’s home winning streak ended at 14 last Saturday when the Lehigh Mountainhawks beat the Black Knights 11-10 at Michie Stadium. Last week’s game featured a lot of similarities to the loss at Rutgers. Army started slow and soon found themselves down by 4. They battled back to within 1 three separate times but never quite got control of the game, and a last-minute rally never quite netted the tying score to force overtime.
Brendan Nichtern put up 5 points, and FOGO Will Colletti did an admirable job against Lehigh’s Mike Sisselberger, winning 8/24 faceoffs and forcing 10 contested starts, but though that was enough to keep the score close, it wasn’t quite enough to control the contest overall. Happily, Sisselberger is the best faceoff guy the Black Knights will see during the regular season this year.
Army now sits at 2-1 in the Patriot League, but they’ll need to play better going forward in order to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Road Trip Versus the Loyola Greyhounds
Loyola earned an At Large bid to the NCAA tournament last year, an unusual occurrence in the Patriot League but not an unheard of one. Last year was special, though, because the Ivy league, one of the best conferences in all of college lacrosse, didn’t play, leaving a better opportunity for the Patriot League team to qualify a second team.
Coming off that success, Loyola then came into this year with crazy high expectations.
Alas, those expectations got wrecked early – or seemed to, anyway. The Greyhounds opened the 2022 campaign 0-4 with losses to Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers, and Towson. They’ve since seemingly turned it around, however, earning wins over Patriot League foes Lafayette and Bucknell alongside ACC powerhouse Duke, whom they beat 12-10.
Friends, Loyola has a good team despite their record, and they’re even more dangerous now because they absolutely must win the Patriot League if they want to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
#9/10 Army West Point is held off by @PatriotLeague foe Lehigh at Michie Stadium.— Army M.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) March 19, 2022
Both teams finished the day with 2⃣1⃣ shots-on-goal in another hard-fought battle.#GoArmy | #FamilyToughnessTradition pic.twitter.com/6NwRk9bBGG
A Tale of Super Seniors
Given last year’s COVID exemptions, we now have a LOT of old undergrads/grad students playing their sixth or even seventh years of college lacrosse (here’s looking at you Rutgers). Loyola is no exception. For example, Army fans might well remember Aiden Olmstead and Kevin Lindley. These guys have been around since Pat Spencer was lighting it up for the Greyhounds years ago!
Olmstead has become the more complete player, having put up 28 points on 11 goals alongside a whopping 17 assists, while Lindley is more of a pure scorer with 13 goals against just 2 assists. Other impact players include super-seniors G Sam Shafer and FOGO Bailey Savio.
This is a good group with high expectations and a ton of experience. Getting a win on the road against these guys will not be easy.
The @LoyolaHounds defense was the backbone of outscoring Bucknell 8-2 in the second half Saturday. Today, two of the Greyhounds – Payton Rezanka & Sam Shafer – earned #PatriotMLAX Weekly Awards!https://t.co/sX0JlQ4I4T#gohounds | @PatriotLeague— Loyola Men's Lacrosse (@LoyolaMLAX) March 21, 2022
Let’s Score Early & Often
Getting a win this week means getting off to a fast start. Both of Army’s losses this season have come when the Black Knights have been outscored in the first quarter.
Army needs to get off strong.
Thankfully, the Army defense comes in ranked 20th nationally in points allowed. That’s about all we can ask from a team missing its All-American firstie defensive captain. Still, this is a team that’s struggling to cause turnovers and which has had occasional issues clearing when they do get a turnover. Army’s transition game looked good last week, and Brendan Nichtern tallied 5 points against a tough Mountainhawk defense, so the answers are there. Army just needs to put it together off the start, not after they’re down 4 points on the road at the end of the 1st period.
Oh by the way, Nichtern now sits just 5 points away from being Army’s All-Time Leading Scorer. He probably needs to get that record this week in order for his team to have a chance at getting a win.
The best way to respond to a loss is to dust yourself off and get a good win against a quality opponent. The good news is that the Black Knights do not have to wait long to get that chance. Army takes on Loyola at 1 pm this Saturday on ESPN+.
Army Women’s Lax
After dropping their first 2 games to start the season, Army Women’s Lacrosse has quietly racked up 7 straight victories under first year Head Coach Michelle Tumolo. Two of Army’s wins have come during Patriot League play – against BU and Holy Cross.
It all starts on offense. Yearling Julia Gorajek has been on an absolute rampage this season, amassing 36 points on 30 goals and 6 assists, while cow Kathleen Sullivan leads the team overall with an otherworldly 44 points on 25 goals plus 19 assists.
As of this writing, Navy and Loyola sit atop the Patriot League on the women’s side, but at 7-2 overall, the Army Women suddenly look like they might yet have something special this season. Oh by the way, both Gorajek and Sullivan are underclasswomen, so this is a team that’s only just now coming into its own.
The Women look to stay undefeated in Patriot League play at Colgate this weekend, starting at 1 pm.
Peep the🎞️ pic.twitter.com/qX5HRwxstg— Army W.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_WLax) March 23, 2022
Go Army! Beat Loyola!!! Beat Colgate!!!
*As always, cover image via Donna Tamasitis (Smugmug).