Welcome back to #AsForLax.
As we talked about in our opening week edition of As For Lax, this season looks intriguing . Let’s cover some emerging themes from the season opener and talk a bit about Army’s next game against a very formidable team from Rutgers.
Week 0 was, well… Week Zero.
Sloppy play is the name of the game this early in the season. We could see from the start of last weekend’s game that the contest was going to be a learning experience for both teams. As is tradition when it comes to the UMass vs. Army opening game, this was a physical slog that featured a ton of turnovers.
Alas, UMass started hot, and although the Black Knights played much better in the second half, especially on offense, the Black Knights were never able to take anything like a decisive lead. Army wound up falling 10-8 in a tough road contest, but we saw quite a few encouraging signs from what is a decidedly young team.
Army’s Women are Good!
We don’t always do the best job covering Women’s Lax here at AFF, but Army’s Women went on the road this week and beat previously #19 Jacksonville this week, 12-10. That is a HUGE win for the program and a Hell of a good sign as we head into out-of-conference play.
Army Men vs. the Rutgers Scarlet Knights
It looks like Reese Burek and Jacob Morin are going to control the offense from different spots in the field this season. That feels like a natural transition. Both players shined in previous years, and now, without Brendan Nichtern, it’s their time to step up.
Expect their roles to develop over the course of the season. Will these guys be facilitating the offense with something like a quarterback-type roll, or will we see more of a free flowing attack with fewer passes and more downhill dodging? I expect we’ll see more of what we saw in the second half this past weekend, with Army taking runs at the defense from all over the field, highlighting the opposing team’s short stick defensive middies.
Watch out for Evan Plunkett and Alex Geikas. Either guy could develop into a serious scoring threat this year.
This past week’s defense looked like a typical Army Defense. Strong checks, good communication, and lots of forced turnovers. As we predicted, it looks like AJ Pilate will be locking down the number one offensive threat for opposing teams – when it’s warranted – but this Army team features a strong cast of defenders.
Thankfully, Coach Alberici knows how to create a defense that limits quality shots on goal, thereby putting the goalie in the best position possible to make saves. Firstie Knox Dent started in goal for the Black Knights this past week, making 9 saves on 19 shots. That’s good! He communicated well, using his experience to run the defense and keep everyone where they needed to be. Dent looks like a potential breakout player in his final season as a Black Knight.
Picking up from a very promising plebe season, yearling Will Coletti served as Army’s sole faceoff man last week. He finished with 12 faceoff wins on 21 total attempts and added both a goal and an assist on the day.
This was a very promising sign for the team. All of the best teams in the country over the past few years have had the ability to win faceoffs consistently and thereby steal possessions from teams going on runs. Coletti was outstanding against Umass. At times, it seemed like the Minutemen might take off on a run and take command of the game, but Coletti’s steady play allowed Army to hang around and even take a late lead.
I’m looking forward to seeing more from him this season.
The good news is that there aren’t any of the Brothers Kirst on the team this year. The bad news is that the Scarlet Knights still boast enough grad transfers and solid returning players to keep this Rutgers team firmly entrenched as a potential national championship contender.
Keys to the Game
Limit turnovers as much as possible.
This early in the season, a few dropped passes and overthrows are inevitable. Tightening up the shot group every game will be crucial.
Can the Black Knights limit unforced errors and turnovers and capitalize on the opposing teams? That’s the winning formula.
Limit Rutgers scoring.
Rutgers has a high powered offense. They hung 20 on Marist and another 11 on a very good Stony Brook team. If Army can’t limit their scoring, the Black Knights will be in some real trouble.
Attack the Goal!
Against UMass, Army ran into a hot goalie. Matt Knope came away with 19 saves on the day, which is absurd. But a lot of those shots maybe shouldn’t have been taken.
Army will find and capitalize on good quality shots this week.
With this Game being at Michie Stadium, I’ll be looking for a great amount of early-season energy from both benches. Give me Army to win in a 1 goal game that comes down to the wire.
Go Army! Beat Rutgers!!!