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Army women’s lax season ends with 2 OT loss to Lehigh

The Army women’s lacrosse team ran into a buzzsaw Sunday afternoon, putting an unexpected early and disappointing end to its season in the Patriot League quarterfinals.

Facing Hayley Hunt, the league’s presumptive goalie of the year and a swarming Lehigh defense that simply confused and shut the Black Knights down for most of the game, Army fell to the Mountain Hawks, 12-11, in double overtime at Michie Stadium. Army had defeated Lehigh, 19-7, in the regular season in late March. 

“She is the goalie of the year,” said Army coach Michelle Tumolo about Hunt, who finished with 12 saves in the contest and is the odds-on favorite to be named the league’s best goalie when awards are announced on Monday. “We were just not on top of our shooting today, perhaps because of Hayley Hunt and Lehigh gave us a good game. We gave everything we could and I am proud of our team for battling, not only today but the entire season.”

The loss puts an abrupt finish to what many thought would be a promising season for the Black Knights, who were selected as an at-large team in last season’s NCAA tournament. Ranked as high as No. 15 in preseason polls, Army struggled out of the gate, losing its first four games, three to ranked teams. But the Black Knights rebounded, winning nine of their last 12 games, including finishing its league slate at an impressive 7-2, with losses only to No. 5 ranked Loyola (Md.) and No. 21 ranked Navy. 

Tumolo, in her third season as the head coach at Army, had hopes that the experience gained during the season would help Army (9-8) make some noise in the postseason. Unfortunately for the Black Knights, Lehigh had other plans. 

After falling behind 4-0 late in the first quarter, the Mountain Hawks rattled off four quick goals in about three minutes to tie the contest. Army managed to regain the lead and took a 7-5 advantage into halftime. The third quarter belonged to Lehigh and the Mountain Hawks ended the quarter – including a goal with just one second left—ahead 10-9.

Army regained the lead with scores by senior Julia Gorajek and sophomore Allison Reilly to take a 11-10 lead with about five minutes left in the game. Lehigh’s Gabby Schneider scored an unassisted goal with just 48 seconds left in regulation to send it into overtime. 

That set the stage for Emma Eberhardt’s man-up goal 1:36 into the second overtime that gave Lehigh the victory. 

“There is a lot of growing we need to do,” added Tumolo. “Both myself and our team, there were certain things we were just weren’t prepared for and just not mature enough to handle. I think the chaos got to us a little bit. We need to do the simple things. Defensively, we played really, really tough.”

The silver lining for the Black Knights is that they return a number of key players next season, including Reilly, who scored four goals in the game and had 53 on the season, and fellow sophomores Brigid Duffy, who scored two goals and finished with 58 goals on the season, and Lily Valentini, who scored once on Sunday to finish with 21 goals this year. Goalie Lindsey Serafine, who made played well in the net for Army with six saves, is also a sophomore, and Ryan Remaly, who scored her 15th goal of the season in the game, is just a freshman. 

“We have a great roster, but we have to get better from top to bottom,” Tumolo said. “We just have to be super dialed-in at all times, be able to handle pressure, be able to handle close games and be able to handle people coming back from a deficit. My goal is to get everyone on my team better and be prepared for these big games.” 

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