I’ll be honest, this winter sports season has dragged on quite a bit for me. Normally there is at least one of the six basketball teams we cover that are putting on a show and find themselves somewhere near the top of the standings. However, the Army men currently find themselves in the best shape at 5th in the Patriot League conference. The Navy men are 6th, and outside of that, it’s been really, really tough sledding.
There have definitely been some positive going on across some of the other winter sports, but I’ve been looking forward to the start of lacrosse season for quite some time. And boy, has it delivered in a big way!
By my count, we’ve already gotten four top 25 victories between the service academy teams, and every single program is off to a terrific start to the year. Let’s break down what’s been going on and look ahead to some more outstanding matchups on the docket this week!
#13 Army Men’s Lacrosse (3-0, with two top 20 wins):
If there’s a hotter team to start the year on the men’s side, I’d like to know who it is. All the Black Knights have done is absolutely dismantle their first three opponents by a combined score of 51-9. You might think they started out with some kind of cupcake schedule, but TWO of those wins were against top 20 ranked programs.
They kicked off the season by dominating #18 UMass 17-4, followed that up with a 19-1 win against NJIT, and then took down #19 Rutgers 15-4 on Saturday. They are sure to move into the top 10 this week I would think, and we might get one of the best early season matchups a week from today when they take on the fifth-ranked Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome!
They have been led by sophomore Brendan Nichtern, who is a Tewaaraton Award Watchlist player. He currently has 20 points on the season, with 7 goals and 11 assists. Senior Sean O’Brien is right there with Nichtern, putting up 9 goals and 3 assists through three games.
Wyatt Schupler has been terrific in goal, as the Black Knights are holding opponents to a paltry .113 shooting percentage so far.
Look for Army to continue rolling when they travel up the Hudson to face Marist this week, prior to traveling to Syracuse for the showdown with the Orange. If Army pulls off the victory in the Carrier Dome next Sunday, they could easily find themselves vaulting towards a top five ranking themselves just three weeks into the season.
All gas, no breaks. #GoArmy #FamilyToughnessTradition pic.twitter.com/nVdI6ZY5kL— Army M.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) February 16, 2020
Army Women’s Lacrosse (2-0 overall):
The Army Women’s team still feels like it’s in its infancy to some degree, though it’s now in its fifth season of D-1 play. They have steadily improved the last three years, finishing 14-5 last year and making their first Patriot League tournament, where they beat Lehigh before being doubled up by Navy 20-10. Will this be the year they move into the top tier of the Patriot League and challenge Navy or Loyola?
They may not have faced the same level of competition as their men’s counterparts so far, but the result has been pretty similar. So far through two games, they are undefeated with wins against Marist and Columbia by a combined score of 32-11.
2019 First Team All Patriot League player Jackie Brattan has picked up right where she left off, leading the way with 12 points (9G, 3A) through two games. Sophomore Caroline Raymond is also off to a great start coming off her Patriot League Rookie of the Year season. She has 6 goals and 3 assists so far this year.
Army will take on Iona and Hartford this week as they look to go 4-0 on the young season!
We had a new member join the point club today! #GoArmy pic.twitter.com/p6dGXTmvcN— Army W.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_WLax) February 15, 2020
Navy Men’s Lacrosse (2-0 Overall):
The Navy men have kicked off the Joe Amplo era in style, beating Manhattan 9-4 in their first game. Junior Christian Daniel proved he’s more than capable of taking over as the leading attackman for the Mids, scoring two goals to go with two assists to pace the team. Perhaps the biggest positive was the play of four-year starter Ryan Kern in goal. He was the team MVP last year, and showed why he will make it difficult for opposing offenses all year with a 14 goal effort.
Navy followed that win up with a trouncing of Furman on Saturday, as former coach Richie Meade brought his Paladins to Annapolis for the first time. Navy went up 19-0 and held Furman scoreless for nearly 52 minutes before giving up their first goal. Daniel once again led the way with two goals and two assists, and Kern didn’t have to do too much as their were only seven shots on goal in the entire contest for the Paladins.
The Mids will now gear up for two much tougher matchups as they take on a #19 Richmond team that took Maryland to double overtime before they face the #4 Terrapins themselves in College Park next Saturday!
Also, this video is pretty freakin sweet!
It’s go time ⚓️⚓️ pic.twitter.com/pafeS4bLnE— Navy Men's Lacrosse (@navymlax) February 7, 2020
#13 Navy Women’s Lacrosse (2-1 Overall, one top 25 win):
The Navy Women’s Lacrosse team has a loaded schedule to start the season, and they have wasted no time giving us some of the most dramatic finishes of the year!
They fought hard against a top 10 opponent in Virginia to open the season, not being able to quite hold the Cavaliers off at the end and falling to them in overtime by a score of 14-13. A free position shot by UVA with just 34 seconds left sent them to overtime, as Navy just barely missed getting a goal before the end of regulation but it was waved off.
It was evident just how much attention Kelly Larkin, a second team All-American from last year and Navy’s all-time leading scorer, is going to get this year. This is going to force other people to have to step up, and Natalie Irwin did just that with 4 goals. Annalise Heyward is going to be relied on heavily for her defense, but she contributed 2 goals and an assist of her own in the defeat.
The Mids followed that up by bouncing back against Saint Joseph’s. This time Larkin wouldn’t be denied as she had TEN points in the game, scoring five goals and dishing out five assists. Heyward continued her solid play as well adding four goals of her own in the 19-12 victory.
Navy then got to 2-1 by beating the #21 team in the country in the Duke Blue Devils in another nail biter, this time by a score of 16-15. Up by 8 goals at one time, the Mids held on in the closing seconds to get the ranked win. Larkin added 8 more points to her season, totalling 5 goals and 3 assists to lead the way.
They will take on Villanova this week before gearing up for two tough weeks when they face Maryland and Florida in back-to-back contests.
Kelly Larkin just became the @NavyWLax all-time assist leader with this beautiful pass to Marina Lazarides to give the Mids a 6-5 lead over Duke with 9:25 left in the first half. You can watch the game live on the @PatriotLeague.TV here: https://t.co/DlEdHlwdXV pic.twitter.com/XjHeKEB6uM— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) February 16, 2020
#17 Air Force Men’s Lacrosse (2-1 Overall, one top 25 win):
Last but certainly not least on this young season is the Falcons lacrosse team. They may be the biggest surprise so far of the bunch, but they are off to a terrific start, having taken down the #5 team in the country in the Duke Blue Devils to kick off the year 14-13.
Leading the way in that one was a freshman, Brandon Dodd, who started out his college career by scoring four goals and notching four assists against a top five opponent. Junior Quincy Peene also had a terrific game, scoring four goals and adding an assist as well.
Air Force followed that up with another tough top ten matchup, falling 13-7 to #9 Denver at home. The Falcons kept it close through three quarters, being down just 4-3 at halftime, and keeping pace through three quarters at 6-5, before losing momentum in the final frame. Senior Trey Lervick paced the team with two goals and an assist in the loss.
The Falcons got back on the winning side again on Saturday, taking down the upstart Utah Utes 9-8. They were down 5-1 after the first quarter but battled back to tie it at the end of three 7-7 before pulling ahead in the fourth for the victory.
Peene and Brenden Crouse led the way with two goals each.
Next up for Air Force are matchups against Cleveland State and St. Bonaventure in the Pioneer Face Off Classic before they prepare to take on the defending national champs in UVA the following week!
And the tradition continues... #GotYourBack #LetsFly ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/tjceIsrTVC— Air Force Lacrosse (@AF_Lax) February 15, 2020