We’ve reached the second phase of the postseason. Fresh off the win against Loyola Maryland in the Patriot League championships, the Black Knights have made it into the nation’s elite — the small but competitive field for the NCAA Tournament.
Army drew Maryland in the first round. Last year, this would’ve been a bad beat. Maryland won the National Championship — relatively easily. This year, though, is a different thing. Maryland can be beaten. They even lost to a common opponent, the Loyola Greyhounds. But since this is the playoffs, and we are in uncharted territory with opponents, let’s focus on the Army team.
Army Black Knights
Army played a top 3 game this season when they met Loyola in the Patriot League Championship Game. The score may not have indicated it, but the team clicked in all facets. Each time one end felt pressured, the other side picked up the slack. Army controlled the game from start to finish.
But championship lacrosse is a whole different animal.
Every team hits peak form; sloppy errors are mostly a thing of the past.
To take it to the Terrapins this weekend, Army play mistake free. We know the Black Knights’ winning formula — limit unforced errors and stay patient on the offensive end. That’s how this team has played since Navy, and it’s worked every time they’ve managed stayed true to that identity. So expect Army to take their time with their offensive possessions and to only take shots when they have quality looks or an expiring shot clock.
On the defensive end of the ball, Army just needs to keep doing what they do. We weren’t exaggerating a few weeks ago when we talked about how good BU attack line was. But Army played well against them, and those guys are as good on the attack as anyone in the tournament, save maybe Notre Dame or Duke. Close defense and good communication will get this done.
The big battle on the defensive end will be the Army Short Stick Defensive Midfielders against Maryland’s offensive dodgers. But Army has made that work a lot this season.
Matching Up with the Terrapins
Maryland is going to get guys the match-ups they want. Beginning the game, Army will likely see a lot of short stick middies isolated behind the cage to create space for Maryland’s shooters. Will Army be able to play man-to-man defense, or will they start sliding relatively early in the contest against Maryland’s attackmen? I don’t envy Coach A having to make an adjustment like that on the fly in a championship game, but it may become necessary.
FOGO Nick Colletti put the NCAA tournament on notice when he DOMINATED Lehigh’s Mikey Sisselberger in the Patriot League Semifinals. Sisselberger has been the gold standard for faceoff men in the League for years. Army’s yearling came out and made the statement that he is here and ready to play.
Look for Maryland’s wing play to be very aggressive in trying to jump Colleti just as he wins faceoffs. That seemed to be the winning strategy late in the Lehigh game.
Been waiting for this since last week. It's NCAA Tournament 𝑮𝑨𝑴𝑬𝑫𝑨𝒀!!!— Army Men's Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) May 13, 2023
🆚 4 seed Maryland
🕰️ 7:30 PM
📍College Park, MD
🏟️ SECU Stadium
📊 https://t.co/Xlm3BNKtHI#GoArmy | #KeepTheChange | #FamilyToughnessTradition pic.twitter.com/Ylb6DRVqG6
Maryland will be a tough opponent this Saturday, but they are beatable. If Army is playing their brand of lacrosse and keeping that same chip on their shoulder that they carried during Patriot League play, then watch out! The Black Knights just might make a statement.
The biggest key to victory will be trusting in teammates and playing Army’s game. With that, results will come.
Go Army! Beat Maryland!!!
Cover image vs. GoArmyWestPoint.Com.