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Army women’s lacrosse looks to solve Navy, clinch Patriot League first-round bye

Michelle Tumolo will pace the Michie Stadium sidelines, seeking Army’s second straight regular-season win over Navy Saturday.

Once upon a time, Tumolo could have been on the opposite side of the women’s lacrosse rivalry. Navy recruited Tumolo out of Clearview Regional High School in New Jersey. She chose to play for Syracuse and finished her decorated career in 2013 third on the Orange’s all-time points list.

Tumolo coached at Florida and Oregon as an assistant and successfully led Wagner before taking over at Army last season. One of the Black Knights’ top goals in Tumolo’s first year was to beat Navy for the first time in the program’s young history. Mission was accomplished with 14-9 victory in Annapolis. Navy got even in the Patriot League semifinal with a 16-6 win over Army.

Army (12-2), which won its first 11 games earlier in the season, looks to keep a strong campaign going against its rival Saturday. Game time is 2:30 p.m. because that was the same start time as last year’s Army win.

“I’m superstitious,” Tumolo said on the Black Knight Nation podcast. “(Navy’s) Cindy Timchal is an incredible coach. I respect the heck out of her. She’s one of my idols.

“It’s two great teams playing against each other. Two great staffs as well. People that love lacrosse.”

Army would clinch a top two seed and a Patriot League tournament first-round bye with a win over Navy. The rivalry game is the perfect scenario for Army to bounce back from its first conference loss, 19-5 to Loyola (Md.) last weekend.

Army’s offense is paced by freshman Brigid Duffy, who has a team-high 47 goals. Tumolo said Duffy is, “one of the most athletic humans I’ve ever seen.”

Senior Kathleen Sullivan (28 goals, 38 assists) is tied with Duffy for the team led in points with 66.

“Obviously, this one Saturday means a lot to us,” Tumolo said. “That’s a given but it’s also to extend our season in May and get a good seed in the tournament and possibly make the NCAA tournament for the first time ever.

“We’re just so focused on Saturday for a lot of reasons and we are excited and hyped as well. To get a second Star (for winning) would be amazing. The expectations are to keep winning. Why stop now and why not have the belief to keep doing things that we’ve been doing all season.”

Tumolo is Army’s second coach in the program’s history following Kristen Skiera, now the head coach at Virginia Tech. She doesn’t take coaching at the academy for granted.

“When I was offered the job, it brought tears to my eyes because I felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it has been for the last two years,” Tumolo said.

“I’m just lucky to be able to coach my team through these games. It’s memories that I will remember for my lifetime that I’ll tell my grandchildren about. It’s exciting and I’m fired up.”

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