Army held off a late attack to win this heated rivalry, 7-6. A late Navy goal was wiped off and the Army defense held off a desperate late attack by the Midshipmen.
Rarely will you see a lacrosse game where every ground ball is as hotly contested as this, nor will the passion run as high as this one. The loss puts Navy at a precarious 5-7, meaning their trip to the NCAA Tournament hinges on winning the Patriot League title. If Navy doesn't beat Hopkins, win the Patriot League Tournament, and score two more wins in the NCAA Tournament, this will mark the first season since 2003 that the Midshipmen haven't reached double digit wins.
BALTIMORE, Md. - Army junior attackman Jeremy Boltus totaled three goals and an assist to be named Game MVP and lead the Black Knights to a 7-6 victory over arch-rival Navy, Saturday afternoon, at M&T Bank Stadium. The opening game of the Smartlink Day of Rivals, hosted by Inside Lacrosse Magazine, Boltus broke a 6-6 tie with a tally off a feed from sophomore midfielder Conor Hayes with 4:29 to play in the fourth quarter to clinch a victory in the 88th meeting between the two storied programs.
Army freshman attackman Garrett Thul added two goals and an assist as the Black Knights(6-5, 4-0 PL) took sole possession of first place in the Patriot League. Army turned in a stout defensive effort, holding the Midshipmen to one goal over a 32 minute span from the second to the fourth quarter.
"Today was a tremendous game. I was very impressed with how hard Navy played, as you would expect them to, but I was also very proud with how hard our guys battled all the way through. I thought we were to evenly matched teams and we were fortunate to come out on top," said Army head coach Joe Alberici.
"I can't really put into words what we're feeling," said Boltus. "It is amazing, especially after all the tough losses we've had the past two years. It isn't just a feeling for us, but for all our parents, coaches and past players. We've been getting text messages all week wishing us luck. We are just one huge, tight-knit family that extends around the world. That is who this win was for."
Boltus got things going at the 10:24 mark of the first quarter, running from behind the Navy goal and stuffing home the game's first goal. The Midshipmen would answer with two goals of their own in the last two minutes of the quarter to take a one-goal lead. Senior attackman Kyle Kapron notched a man-up tally at 2:37 following an Army interference penalty, before sophomore midfielder Nikk Davis scored on an eight-yard shot at 1:44.
Senior attackman Tyler Seymour took a feed from junior midfielder Rob McCallion and scored on a five-yard shot at 13:22 to tie the score, 2-2. Less than two minutes later, Thul bullied his way past a defender and sent a pass to senior midfielder Tyler Oates, who ripped a low shot into the Navy goal to make it a 3-2 Army edge with 11:41 to play in the half.
Navy sophomore attackman Ryan O'Leary cut past a defender behind the Army goal and got open to score at 8:52, but the Black Knights would score two goals of their own to lead 5-3 at halftime. Boltus would notch a man-up tally on a 10-yard shot at 5:26 after Navy goalie RJ Wickham was screened by one of his own defenders, before Thul bounced a behind-the-back shot off the post and into the goal at 4:35.
Junior midfielder Kevin Doyle pulled the Mids back within one with an unassisted goal at 11:21, but Thul would shake off a Navy defender and jam home his second tally of the game with 2:55 on the clock to make it a 6-4 Black Knight advantage after three quarters.
A pair of Navy goals in just over a minute tied the game back up with 5:35 to play in regulation. Joe Lennon came off a pick and scored an unassisted goal at 6:37, before Davis found the net after a short run for the equalizer.
Two teams that had already each played four overtime games apiece this season appeared to be headed toward their fifth, but Boltus' third goal of the game proved to be the game-winner. Boltus got open on the left side of the Navy goal and scored off a feed from Hayes from 10 yards out to give the Black Knights the one-goal advantage.
Army junior goalkeeper Tom Palesky was credited with eight saves to preserve the victory.
"I'm so happy we got that win for our seniors," said Palesky. "They have done so much for this program and are a really close group. Their leadership has been unreal for the rest of us and I really wanted to win it for them. I've got goose bumps right now."
The lone undefeated team in the Patriot League, Army will take on second-place Lafayette on the road this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in Easton, Pa.
|Nikk Davis||(2, 0)|
|Ryan O'leary||(1, 0)|
|Joe Lennon||(1, 0)|
|Kyle Kapron||(1, 0)|
|Kevin Doyle||(1, 0)|
|Andy Warner||(0, 1)|
|Rj Wickham||7 (0.500)|