A different Saturday brought a different group of offensive players stepping up to help the Army men’s lacrosse team register another victory.
A different Saturday and the same group of defensive players plus faceoff specialist Will Coletti on his game again keyed the win for the Black Knights.
This time, it was offensive players Paul Johnson, Andrew Kelly, Bailey O’Connor and freshman Dawson Clark taking the lead for the No. 8 Black Knights, helping them overcome a sluggish and sloppy first half to top visiting Bucknell 12-7 for Army’s eighth straight win.
Army (8-1, 5-0 conference) moved into sole possession of first place (after Boston University lost to Navy on Friday night) in the Patriot League.
But, it was the defense, which has held the opposition to single-digit goals in six of the team’s nine games this year, and the tremendous play of Coletti, a sophomore, that once again wrote this victory song. Led by several underclassmen including sophomore AJ Pilate and freshman John Sullivan, as well as junior Ned Lynch, the Black Knights essentially shut down the Bucknell offense in the second half, holding the Bison to just two goals in the last 30 minutes.
And Coletti? All he did was win 18 of 23 faceoffs, control 15 ground balls, score a goal and assist
on another score.
“Our defense is really humming,” said Army coach Joe Alberici. “Ned Lynch covered Connor Davis, who was averaged three goals per game, and held him to just one goal. Pilate also did a great job and Johnny Sulllivan, who is just a freshman, plays better and better every time he gets on the field. In fact, all our defensive players, guys like Keegan Tracey, John Devino, Eamon Murphy and Christian Mazer, did an outstanding job today.”
Bucknell took a 5-4 lead into halftime. But, the Black Knights came out firing in the second half, going up 11-6 early in the fourth quarter and with Coletti dominating the X, giving the Bisons limited scoring chances in the second half.
“Bucknell is a very difficult team to play against,” said Alberici. “They do a lot of different things defensively that can cause some problems and their goalie had eight saves in the first half. I thought we did everything right in the first half, but it just did not click for us. Plus, we had a few man down situations and the combination of all of that led to the halftime deficit.”
Alberici had to be very happy with the play of Army’s second line midfielders, with Cal Lambert and Kelly scoring goals. Also, junior goalie Matt Chess, called into emergency action last week when starting goalie Knox Dent went down with a lower body injury, played superbly in the net in the second half. He finished with 12 saves on the day.