Championship season is here. Having finished the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, the field is now set. Loyola, after defeating Navy in the play in-game, will face off against BU in the first game of the semifinals. Lehigh defeated a tough Lafayette team in a back-and-forth affair and will now meet the Black Knights. The winners advance to the championship.
When playing the same opponent for the second time, many of the Keys to Victory remain the same. With that in mind, take a look at our first article on this Patriot League slugfest to get a sense of what we thought the first time around.
In the postseason, you want to concentrate less on the specifics of your opponent and more on what you’re doing right or wrong as a team. The reason being, outside of conference tournaments, the rest of the postseason is likely against fresh opponents whom you may or may not have ever seen.
Here’s what we see Army doing right and what they need to clean up to keep their postseason dreams alive.
Army-Navy always delivers, especially with postseason stakes.— USA Lacrosse Magazine (@USALacrosseMag) May 5, 2023
Kathleen Sullivan converted a feed from Brigid Duffy with 1:08 remaining in double overtime to lift @ArmyWP_WLax to a 12-11 win over Navy in Baltimore.
CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL THURSDAY 👇 https://t.co/dFvjEA4iH4
Although it may not have seemed like it due to the final result, Army did score early and often in the loss against BU. If it weren’t for some serious 4th quarter heroics from the Terriers — and some unfortunate penalties (more on that in a bit) — Army could have ridden their defense to victory in that final quarter.
Army’s offense, and how long they keep it rolling, will dictate how effective the Army defense is in the postseason. If the Black Knights can extend possessions and allow the defense time to recoup, the Army offense will be doing their most crucial job.
Army’s defense really did a great job against BU. The Terriers have one of the most dynamic offensive units in the entire sport. But the Black Knights flew around the ball, making good take-away checks, and only allowing a handful of good looks for BU’s offense.
This defense is at its best when they’re able to fly around, force quick possessions, and take a breather while the offense works the ball on their end before eventually getting a goal. G Know Dent, D A.J. Pilate, and the rest of the crew have anchored the core of this Army defense all year.
We expect that to continue.
Clean-Up the Penalties
The Black Knights are a VERY aggressive team when it comes to man-to-man defense and the ride, so penalties are going to happen. What the team can’t have is too many penalties. Against BU, the Army defense largely limited the Terriers’ offense and kept them at distance throughout most of the game. But once the defense started to pick up penalties, they opened the door to what would eventually be a last-minute loss for the regular season title.
Playing aggressive defense is great, but controlling the stick and only taking opportunities when they’re prudent will limit penalties and therefore extra man chances for opposing teams.
Army has a good squad this year, and they’ve gotten better as the season has progressed. The Keys to Victory over Lehigh still remain unchanged from that close game a few weeks ago, but this remains a game that Army can and should win. The battle of the faceoff X will be something to behold.
It’s now a win and advance season.
The Human-Cheat Code in the faceoff circle is now the single season ground balls record holder 🤩— Army Men's Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) May 5, 2023
Will has scooped up 𝟏𝟐𝟓 ground balls and counting this year!#GoArmy | #FamilyToughnessTradition pic.twitter.com/BnKhQwzzDX
Bonus Coverage: Year End Awards
Army cleaned up on Patriot League awards this past week. Coach Alberici was — rightfully — named Patriot League Coach of the Year. G Knox Dent earned Goaltender of the Year honors. D A.J. Pilate was named defensemen of the year. Plebe Evan Plunkett rounded out the major awards with the Rookie of the Year title.
Five separate Black Knights were named to All-Patriot League First Team with the three mentioned above plus Jacob Morin and Reese Burek. Plus, Will Coletti and Christian Fournier were named to All-Patriot League Second Team. Fournier was also to the Patriot League All-Academic team.
All of this is incredible. This team went from being ranked 4th in the Patriot League during the preseason to now, where they now have every chance to complete a legitimately special season. All of this shows that the Black Knights don’t rebuild, they just reload.
Go Army! Beat Lehigh!!! Beat Everyone!!!
Cover image via Facebook: Army West Point Lacrosse.