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Men’s lacrosse season is here! Air Force, Navy begin campaigns Saturday

Army was tabbed 10th in Inside Lacrosse’s Top 20, as Air Force was voted first in the ASUN preseason poll.

Air Force Athletics - Matt Riley

College lacrosse is back.

Although neither made the NCAA Tournament last season, all three academies are sitting pretty in the preseason and have strong signs of hope.

Air Force was picked to finish first in the ASUN, Army received first-place votes in the Patriot League preseason poll, and Navy was the first team out of the Inside Lacrosse Top 20.

The action begins on Saturday as both Navy and Air Force play big games in the DMV.

Schedule

Saturday:

Mount St. Mary’s vs Navy – Noon EST (ESPN+)

Air Force vs No. 1 Virginia – 1 p.m. EST (ACC Network Extra)

Air Force

Picked first in the ASUN preseason poll, the Falcons will look to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2017. The season starts with no cupcake though, as they’ll face the 2021 NCAA tournament champs, Virginia.

Last season, the Falcons lost to the Cavaliers by a score of 20-4, led by an 8-0 Cavalier scoring run.

Now, the offense was a problem for the Falcons last season. They ranked in the bottom 10 in the country in goals per game, so they’ll have to pick up that play. On the bright side, the Falcons return a preseason first-team defender in Quentin Carlile and a preseason first-team midfielder in Brendan Crouse.

If they play defense as they did at times during SoCon play, Air Force should have no problems making the postseason this year.

Navy

After just missing out on the tournament last season, Navy will fight for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2016.

The Midshipmen are getting some national love, being the first team outside of Inside Lacrosse’s initial Top 20 ranking. They finished the 2021 regular season winning their last three games, including a win over an Elite 8 team in nearby Loyola (MD).

This season, Navy was picked fourth in the Patriot League preseason poll and bring back two preseason first-team players in midfielder Patrick Skalniak and defender Jackson Bonitz.

Navy will aim to prove everyone right as they open the season up against Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday. The Midshipmen beat the Mountaineers by a score of 8-5 last season.

Army

Coming into the season as the 10th-rankes team in the country, the Black Knights are many people’s sleeper pick to win the whole NCAA tournament.

Army brings in four preseason first-team players including the Patriot League preseason offensive, defensive and goalkeeper of the year. Both those offensive and defensive players were also named second-team All Americans.

Brendan Nichtern returns to West Point for his fourth season. He was named the Patriot League preseason offensive player of the year for the second time in a row and was tabbed eighth on Inside Lacrosse’s Tewaaraton Award watch list.

Marcus Hudgins was a stalwart member of the fifth-ranked scoring defense in the country, being named this season’s preseason defensive player of the year. Hudgins set career-highs in ground balls (36) and turnovers (23).

Wyatt Schupler is back in the cage for Army. He had a .569 save percentage last season, which was 10th-best in the country. His 9.30 goals-against average mark was eighth-best nationally.

Army opens its season next Saturday against UMass.