Army vs. Rutgers
March 18, 2006
The Game Story:
WEST POINT, N.Y. - After frustrating Rutgers' offense all afternoon, Army came up with one more defensive stop in the final 27 seconds of the game to preserve a one-goal lead and capture its eighth straight win over the Scarlet Knights, 5-4, on a sunny, but windy and cold day at West Point's Michie Stadium.

Rutgers leading scorer Chris Doctor potted his second goal of the afternoon, and eighth of the season, with 33 seconds remaining in the contest to draw the visitors within striking distance. When faceoff specialist Ted Melanson won the ensuing draw, his ninth of the day in 12 opportunities, Rutgers called timeout with 27 ticks left to set up one more offensive possession.

However, Doctor tripped and lost control of the ball in his crosse out near the restraining line, and Army's Paul Wigdzinski scooped up the ground ball and ran out the clock to secure the Black Knights' second win of the season.

Army switched between a zone and man-to-man defense all afternoon, keeping the Scarlet Knights' attack guessing.

"That was our best team defensive effort of the season," Army head coach Joe Alberici said. "We gave up only one goal in (Rutgers') settled offense. They scored twice in transition and one man up. Our riding game was good all day, and we scored a goal directly off of it."

First team All-American John Walker converted a turnover by Scarlet Knights' goalkeeper Greg Havalchak into an easy goal at the 7:33 mark of the third quarter, which gave Army (2-3) its biggest lead of the day at 4-2. The ball fell out of Havalchak's stick as he cradled it on a clear attempt for Rutgers (2-3). Walker scooped up the loose ball, deked Havalchak and rolled the rubber sphere into an empty cage. The Scarlet Knights were successful on just 12 of 19 clearing attempts Saturday.

Rutgers hasn't beaten Army since 1998. However, six of the eight losses have been by just one goal. The Black Knights have won those eight contests by a combined 12 goals. Scarlet Knights head coach Jim Stagnitta remains winless against Army in five tries, losing four of those by one goal.

"This was a gut-check for our club, coming off our performance against Cornell last weekend." Alberici said.

Army dropped a 13-1 verdict at No. 6 Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., being held scoreless for over 46 minutes.

Matt Scheel buried his fifth tally of the season with 2:41 to go in the game that proved to be the game-winner and restored Army's two-goal advantage (5-3). Rutgers' Jeff Rommel had drawn the Scarlet Knights to within one at the 5:54 mark with his third goal on the year.

The low-scoring affair marked the first time since 1988 that Army won a game in which it scored as few as five goals in a contest. However, Alberici was quick to praise the play of his offense, despite only five tallies.

"We limited their possessions by keeping the ball in their end," Alberici said. "Our offense really helped out the defense today. They were smarter with the ball."

Adam Fullerton recorded 10 saves in goal for Army. Havalchak registered nine saves, including five in the third quarter, before leaving briefly at the beginning of the fourth after rolling his ankle trying to pick up a ground ball. Lyle Farrar replaced the four-year starter, logging 1:51 of game action before Havalchak returned to the cage following a team timeout.

The Black Knights attack was fueled by five different goal scorers in the win. Ryan Chase got the hosts on top early with an unassisted tally 1:50 into the contest. Rutgers' Matt Gaines would even things up two and one-half minutes later. However, Army faceoff specialist Tony Vozzolo won the ensuing draw and rambled down field unmarked, firing a shot past Havalchak 10 seconds after Gaines had knotted the score. It was Vozzolo's first goal of the season and second in his career.

Doctor dented Army's twine early in the second quarter, and that is how many thought the first half would end. However, Army defenseman Andrew Yakulis stuck his long pole in the path of a Rommel pass and started the Black Knights on a clear with 30 seconds remaining.

Freshman midfielder Kevin LoRusso put a spin move on a Rutgers defender from 10 yards out and whipped a laser past Havalchak with 4.9 seconds remaining in the first half that sent the Black Knights to the locker room with a 3-2 advantage. The marker was LoRusso's third of the season. He leads all plebes in scoring for Army (3G, 1A).

It was the 69th meeting overall in the traditional rivalry between regional non-league opponents. Army improves to 50-18-1 all-time against the Rutgers.

The Black Knights will be back in action on Tuesday, March 21 when they travel to Lafayette for a Patriot League battle with the Leopards at 7 p.m. They will then return home for another league tilt on Saturday, March 25 against Colgate. Faceoff for that game is 1 p.m. at Michie Stadium. Rutgers hosts ECAC opponent Hobart next Saturday.