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Service Academy lacrosse round-up: Air Force secures SoCon tournament berth with victory

As the regular season comes to a close, service academy lax teams prepare for tournament play

NCAA Lacrosse: Women’s Championships Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

As we near the beginning of the Patriot League and Southern Conference tournaments, let’s take a look at how our service academy lax teams did this week.

Army Men

The Black Knights (9-4, 5-3) fell to eighth-ranked Loyola (10-3, 6-1) on Saturday after a first half that seemed promising. The first quarter saw Army dominate with three goals, the first by Nicholas Garofano, who also earned his first career hat trick in the loss. The Black Knights kept their lead going into the second quarter until consecutive Pat Spencer goals got the Greyhounds back in it at 3-2. The Black Knights followed that up with back-to-back goals themselves to extend the lead back out to three at 5-2, but that was the highest advantage they would hold the rest of the way.

Still leading 6-4 at halftime, Army started to lose their footing in the second half, when Loyola managed a 4-1 run, putting them up 8-7 at the end of the third quarter. Matt Manown netted an unassisted goal for the Black Knights in the fourth period and Garofano got his third goal of the day with 47 seconds left, but it was too little too late as Spencer and Co. dominated the second half to come away with the 13-9 victory.

The Black Knights will travel to Newark, New Jersey, to face off against New Jersey Institute of Technology on Monday, April 29 at 2:00pm to finish out their regular season.

Army Women

The Black Knights (12-4, 5-3) clinched another Patriot League victory on Saturday against Boston University (11-5, 6-2). It was their first victory over BU in program history.

During the first half, the Black Knights and Terriers had a quick start with Boston making a goal within the first minute. Army answered in a man-up situation by Taylor Andrews with Caroline Raymond on the assist. By the end of the afternoon Raymond managed a program-best nine points on five goals with four assists. The Black Knights continued with three more unanswered goals. By the end of the first half, Army had created a 7-4 lead.

The Black Knights second half start set the pace for the remainder of the game with Raymond scoring back-to-back goals during the first two minutes of play. The Terriers responded with three straight goals to close the gap to just two.

Army then went for a 3-0 goal run, twice, with Manuela Cortes, Olivia Carter, and Rilee Scott each finding the net to outscore Boston, 9-15 at the end of regulation.

Thanks to this win the women’s team secured a home game in the quarterfinals of the tournament and a chance to clinch the third seed with next week’s game against Bucknell the only remaining regular season contest. It will be the first tournament appearance in program history for the Black Knights and therefore the first ever tournament game hosted at Michie Stadium for women’s lacrosse.

Thursday, Army will take on Bucknell at home in Michie Stadium at 6:00pm.

Navy Men

The Midshipmen (5-7) fell to ninth-ranked Syracuse (9-3) Saturday afternoon by a score of 18-9. It was a back-and-forth affair in the early going as a pair of Jack Sweeney goals kept the Mids within striking distance of the Orange 3-2. Nick Cole and Ryan Wade then got in on the action as the score was 4-4 early in the second. However, Syracuse went on a 4-0 run to close out the first half and then added three more in the third before Navy could score another goal, making it an eight point advantage and putting the game out of reach.

Navy tried to climb back in it, but the Orange were too much to handle behind Bradley Voigt’s five goals and Syracuse won the contest 18-9.

The Midshipmen will take on a tough Boston University squad in their last regular season game on Friday, April 26 at 6:00 pm in Annapolis.

Navy currently sits in a three-way tie for 5th with Holy Cross and Bucknell heading into the final game of the regular season. Navy lost to Holy Cross earlier in the year but defeated Bucknell. The Crusaders take on an equally tough Lehigh team on Friday and Bucknell will face off against Colgate in a game they should win. The top six teams make the Patriot League Tournament so it’s going to come down to the wire for the Mids.

Navy Women

Now on a four-game winning streak, the Mids (13-3, 7-1) dominated Lafayette (5-11, 1-7) Saturday afternoon, 21-5, for their seventh Patriot League victory. Since falling to conference leader Loyola, Navy has beaten a ranked Georgetown squad and then dominated competition in matchups against Army, American, and Lafayette. During the first half, Navy went on an impressive 13-0 run, with the first pair of goals made by Andie O’Sullivan and Paige Brigham. Also during the run, O’Sullivan netted her 100th career goal, making her the 13th player in Navy women’s lacrosse history with 100 or more goals. The Mids closed out the half up 15-1 and didn’t look back going into the second.

The Mids were in control on the field, causing 12 turnovers and tallying 21 goals on 41 shots, including 35 shots on goal. Seven goals from Caitlin Blanche highlighted a career-best day for the Navy junior who finished with eight points.

Navy will take on the Boston Terriers Thursday, April 24 at 4:00 pm in Boston, Massachusetts for the last regular season matchup before setting their sights on the Patriot League tournament and hopefully a rematch with Loyola in the Finals. They also have a shot at an at-large bid even if they fail to secure the conference title.

Air Force

The Falcons (9-4, 5-1) outscored VMI (4-8, 0-6) from the very beginning for a 12-5 victory Saturday to continue into their regular season finale.

It was a tough contest to start the game until Matthew Schwartz netted the first Air Force goal with 1:54 left in the first quarter. In the second, Jack Flynn made his first of three goals on eight shots and one assist for the day to lead the Falcons offense. The Keydets saw a pair of goals go in the net to answer Flynn but it would be the only scoring for VMI in the first half.

Air Force’s defense continued to keep VMI at bay causing 10 of their 21 turnovers thanks in part to Vince Lombardi who caused two turnovers and Brandon Jones with one turnover and five ground balls. Jones currently leads in ground balls for the Falcons with 70.

Outscoring the Keydets 5-1 in the third, Air Force secured their spot in the Southern Conference tournament as they followed that up with a 4-2 showing in the last period, improving to 5-1 in the SoCon.

Next Saturday, April 27, Air Force will see Bellarmine at home at 12:00 pm before heading to High Point, NC for what they hope will be a shot at redemption with HPU in the Southern Conference tourney!