Apologies for missing out on the write-up for Bucknell last week. Thankfully, the Black Knights were still able to pull out a solid win despite playing a stingy opponent.
We’ve reached the final four games of the regular season, and now it’s time for Real Talk. Army has been consistent over the years at winning early season games throughout March and February, but they’ve sometimes spluttered down the stretch late in the regular season. Now they’ve got Colgate away, #4 Cornell at Michie Stadium, Navy at Annapolis, and finally a very good Boston University team at home.
Friends, that is a Hell of a daunting schedule.
Should the Black Knights win out through the remainder of the regular season, they should very much be in the conversation for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Here’s what to watch as we look to finish strong.
Big time matchup on Saturday! https://t.co/5AXUHC03uD— Army Men's Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) April 6, 2023
“It Starts in the Middle”
I was perusing some game day hype videos the other day, and, “It starts in the middle,” was something that Coach Alberici told his team in the locker room recently. He was, of course, talking about the faceoff and Army’s leader on that unit, yearling FOGO Will Coletti. Coletti has been nothing short of remarkable this season, building a resume fit for an All-American.
The season isn’t over by a longshot, but if Coletti can put up a good showing in these last four regular season games, he has a real shot at greatness. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s been getting excellent support for the wings whenever faceoffs have been contested.
Look up the definition of 𝑪𝑯𝑬𝑨𝑻 𝑪𝑶𝑫𝑬 and it's just a picture of Will Coletti😮💨— Army Men's Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) April 4, 2023
He went 18-23 from the faceoff circle against Bucknell while also scoring a goal and having an assist.#GoArmy | #FamilyToughnessTradition pic.twitter.com/ySKQkVcO2F
Depth of Scoring
Army is scoring pretty well. I say “pretty well” because we have typically been waiting until the 3rd quarter to pull ahead. That’s when Army fires the cannons.
More interesting is who’s producing Army’s points. Jacob Morin and Reese Burek both stand out, but every game it seems like there is someone who is NOT a known star just straight up having themselves a day. This tells us that in any given game, the Black Knights have enough team depth to produce even when the “usual” suspects might not be having one of their best games.
Defense, Defense, Defense
In the game against Loyola two weeks ago, there was a sequence of saves that was shown in every highlight room all over the country to demonstrate the importance of not giving up on a play. Goalie Knox Dent, having just incurred a lower body injury, dove from behind the cage to makee a save that might qualify for Save of the Year. It came at a critical moment, helped Army retain its momentum, and secured the reality that Dent was playing the best game of his collegiate career. But then he went out with the injury, and cow G Matt Chess had to step in — stone cold and in the freezing rain.
No one knew what to expect. Dent had been playing lights-outs against a very talented Loyola offense. Now here came a guy who’d played less than ten minutes of meaningful lacrosse over the course of his entire collegiate career. But Chess was the next man up, and he delivered. In fact, he gave up exactly *1* goal over the course of more than a quarter-and-a-half of play.
Two things to note here. First, Coach Joe Alberici’s ability to recruit and retain stellar goalies. Second, the Army defense allowed very few shots on goal over that entire second half, with the vast majority coming in situations advantageous to the goalie.
This is what has kept Army in the Top 5 for both defensive efficiency and scoring defense all season long. As we head into the gauntlet this April, Army’s defense will continue to be key.
Open the Flood ‘Gates
I know that’s a horrible pun, but Colgate (1-6, 1-3 in the Patriot League) starts off what is usually the roughest time of year for Army Men’s Lacrosse.
This Army team will need to stay consistent with what has made them successful. Faceoffs will be key. This week, Coletti will be facing off against the ‘Gate’s Tom Colluci, who’s had some pretty stellar games in his own right. Like the team as a whole, Army’s faceoff man will need to buckle down and win his individual match-ups, so that his team can control the game’s flow overall.
Despite their record, Colgate has a good team. Like Bucknell, they’ve hung around in pretty much every contest this season. And as we said about Lafayette earlier in the year, the Red Raiders will almost certainly upset someone in the conference at some point. That kind of thing absolutely happens in college lacrosse. Hell, Navy upset Boston University just this past week.
Alas, this week’s match-up has all the hallmarks of a trap game. Army is on the road, heavily favored, with a more important match-up against #4 Cornell in their immediate future. So consistency is key. The Black Knights cannot afford to let this one get away from them, especially when a potential at-large bid to the Tournament is within their reach.
Expect to see a sense of urgency this week. Army’s struggles in April have haunted even its most talented teams. The Black Knights just need to do what they do, win the games that they should win, and get ready because the next few weeks are championship lacrosse.
Go Army! Beat Colgate!!!
🚨 SCHEDULE UPDATE 🚨— Army Men's Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) April 5, 2023
Our game against Colgate on Saturday will now start at 3:30 p.m.
Cover image via Army West Point Lacrosse on Facebook.