Connect with us


Army lax survives OT thriller at Syracuse in ranked showdown

Less than a month ago, Matt Chess did not even know if he would be the starting goalie on the highly-touted Army’s men’s lacrosse team this season.

On Wednesday night, Chess, a senior from Lancaster, Pa., stopped 11 Syracuse shots on goal, some at point blank range, and played a huge role in the undefeated and No. 5-ranked Black Knights thrilling 14-13 overtime victory over the No. 7 Orange at the JMA Dome in Syracuse.

“I knew that Syracuse had a great team with a high-powered offense,” said Chess, who saw only
limited action last season behind all-Patriot League senior goalie Knox Dent. “But I went into
the game very confident because I know how great our defense has been this year and what
they have done so far and what they can keep doing.

“I was also certain that this was going to be a high-scoring game that could go back and forth and, even when they went on that scoring run, I just stayed focused. The coaches keep telling me in practice that I have to have a short memory when opponents score goals. I have to stay focused and can’t be worried about the last one.”

Alberici also credited Chess, who got the starting nod just a day before Army’s first game against UMass in early February, and junior faceoff specialist Will Coletti, for keeping the Black Knights in the game and the ultimate victory.

“You never know how a goalie is going to play in the dome and especially in his first start in this
place and the bottom line is that Matt played very well in the net,” Albereci said. “Will was awesome against one of the best faceoff specialists in the country in Syracuse’s Mason Kohn, who came into the game winning about 79 percent of his faceoffs and Will managed to win 55 percent of them. He always displays great toughness.”

Let’s be clear, Army needed Chess and Coletti to step up. The Black Knights, now 4-0 on the young season, had 15 turnovers and seemed to be a bit out of sorts, particularly during the second quarter and first part of the third quarter. In fact, Syracuse, which had been trailing 5-3 late in the first quarter, took an 8-6 lead into halftime and added another score to go up 9-6 in the third stanza.

But, led by Chess, who was also near flawless on his clearing passes (at least until overtime), and Coletti, the Black Knights started to slow the high-powered Syracuse offense down and covert goals to scratch back into the contest, trying the game at 11 early in the fourth quarter and then trading scores for the rest of regulation to force overtime.

Syracuse had a great chance to win in the extra period. Chess made a rare mistake, turning the ball over on his only failed clear of the contest, and leaving the Army net wide open for the winning goal by Syracuse. But the long shot went wide left and the Black Knights got another chance.

This time, junior Jackson Eicher, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, slammed in the winning shot, his third score of the game and 11th goal on the season, from about 25 feet out to give Army its third straight victory over Syracuse. According to Alberici, it is Army’s 12th win over a top 10 ranked team in the last six-plus seasons.

Eicher was joined by seniors Jacob Morin and Reese Burek and sophomore Evan Plunkett in earning a three-goal hat trick. Senior Bailey O’Connor and sophomore Gunnar Fellows scored the other Army goals.

“I thought our guys were a bit off track in that second quarter,” Alberici added. “But they settled down and played some really good lacrosse after that. This was a short week for us (Army beat Mercer on Saturday) and Syracuse had not played since last Wednesday. I give a lot of credit to our scout team and the coaches for getting us ready to go. It was critical for us.

“It was a great win, especially coming on the road and in the dome. I am excited for the guys.”

Army opens up its Patriot League schedule with a noon game against Lafayette on Sunday in
Easton, Pa.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


Support Black Knight Nation

Follow Us On Twitter

More in Lacrosse