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Army men’s, women’s lax looking to make mark in NCAA tourney

Photo by Mark Wellman/Army West Point Athletics

Making the NCAA tournaments is just the next step for both the Army men’s and women’s lacrosse team. Now, they want to show the lacrosse world that can compete against the very best the sport has to offer.

While the Army men’s lacrosse squad was guaranteed a spot in the upcoming NCAA men’s tournament as the Patriot League champion, the women’s team earned an at-large bid, thanks to an impressive resume that included a 15-3 record, second place in the Patriot League regular season and a spot in the league’s postseason tournament’s championship game.

In only their eighth season of competition, the women will play seventh-seeded James Madison Friday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the 29-team tournament.

“This was not a surprise at all,” said Army coach Michelle Tumolo. “This team fought very hard and practiced very hard all season to get into the NCAA tournament. We had a great season and we deserve to be included in the tournament.

“I am so proud of my players and the job they have done. The reaction of the team when our name was called was pure joy. But, we are not done yet. We are here to win and we will do our best to keep winning.”

Army is coming off a 13-8 loss to Loyola (Md..) in the Patriot League championship game. Loyola earned the eight seed in the NCAA tournament and handed Army a 19-5 regular-season loss. The Black Knights also fell, 14-13, to Yale during the regular season.

James Madison finished the season with a 17-2 mark, losing only to fourth-seeded North Carolina in the first game of the season and to sixth-seeded Florida in the championship game of the American Athletic Conference’s tournament championship game. The Dukes, who won the national championship in 2018, are led by junior Isabella Peterson, who has scored an incredible 78 goals and has 20 assists thus far this season.

“I know that JMU is a very talented team that is very well coached and they are known for their zone defense,” Tumolo said.

Meanwhile, the men’s team will visit defending national champion and fourth-seeded Maryland, which posted a 10-5 record this year, in the first round Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Interestingly, one of Maryland’s two non-conference losses came at the hands of Loyola (Md.), a team that Army beat during the regular season and again Sunday to win the Patriot League title to gain the guaranteed spot in the national championship tournament.

“We are very excited to be in the tournament and to play Maryland,” said Army men’s coach Joe Alberici. “If you want to be the champion, you have to beat the champion and we have that opportunity on Saturday. But, we realize that they are a very good team, with a great tradition, a tough defense and they are great on the faceoff. It is going to be a clear challenge for us. We will be ready for it.”

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