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Army women’s lax hitting stride, win 4th in row

Photo by Mark Wellman

Carleigh Armstrong knew that the Army women’s lacrosse team was a winner. It is just taking a little bit of time for it all the pieces to fall into place. 

On Senior Day at Michie Stadium, the senior attacker from Potomac, Md. scored five goals to lead the Black Knights to a 22-9 victory over visiting American University Saturday. After an 0-4 start to the season, the win evened Army’s overall record at 6-6 on the season and moved the Black Knights to 4-1 in the Patriot League and in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Patriot League six-team postseason tournament and a chance at the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in May. 

“We are growing and we are learning from each game and each practice and each day we are pushing ourselves to get to new levels,” said Armstrong. “We want to be better than we were the day before. A lot of chemistry is being built and all together we are forming new bonds on and off the field which is helping us now.”

It has been a long way back to .500 for the Black Knights. Facing three ranked teams (USC, Syracuse and Rutgers, plus Siena) in just 15 days in February, Army started the season 0-4 before back-to-back wins over Hofstra and California. After losing two of three, including a one-goal-loss to fifth-ranked Loyola in March, Army has now won four straight games, restoring faith amongst the players and coaches and building hope that this can still be a magical season for this team. 

“I think this is our year,” said Armstrong. “It is something we are reaching for and something that we are ready to check off the list. The first goal is beating (19th-ranked) Navy (Saturday in Annapolis). Then, win the Patriot League tournament and go into the NCAA tournament and make history.”

Army, which started its Division I woman’s lacrosse team in 2016, certainly has the tools to make a deep push into the postseason this year. The sophomore tandem of midfielder Brigid Duffy and attacker Allison Reilly has been the talk of the Patriot League for more than a month already. Duffy, from Queensbury, N.Y., scored four goals on Saturday to raise her season total to 48, while Reilly, from Sayville, N.Y., scored three times to raise her season total to 38. They each rank nationally in the top-seven in total points at this point in the season. 

Senior attacker Julia Gorajek also had four goals for the Black Knights and now has 21 on the season, while Gabrielle Mirak and Ramsey Barrows each scored twice. 

“It is about pushing ourselves every single day in practice, whether it is on the field, in the weight room or in a film session,” added Armstrong. “Get our bodies and minds right so we get better every single day so when we get on the field, we are able to excel.”

Could the tough early schedule be playing a role in helping Army in its Patriot League campaign? Third-year coach Michele Tumolo, who was the Patriot League Coach of the Year last season as she led Army into its first NCAA tournament with an at-large bid, thinks it definitely played a role.

“I feel like we are a whole different team now,” said Tumolo. “With our schedule, I wanted to play ranked opponents and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We were still figuring out who we were in those games. I don’t regret playing those games. I think it has made us who we are now. Those games prepared us to play these other games. We found ourselves and we have depth all over the field.”

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