Will Army’s women’s lacrosse team’s use their first trip to the NCAA tournament as a learning experience and a starting point for seasons to come?
In only their eight season of competition, the Black Knights gave host James Madison, the seventh-ranked team in national polls and a national champion as recently as 2018, all it could handle in the first-round game of the tournament.
In the end, though, the Dukes, now 18-2, simply had more firepower and took down Army 12-8 Friday to move on to face Maryland in the tournament’s second round.
For a young Army team, which finished the season at 15-4 and ranked 14th in the nation, the game had to be a learning experience and one that coach Michelle Tumolo can only hope will help the Black Knights in years ahead.
“It was a tough battle for us,” Tumolo said. “I feel that we played an extremely hard 60 minutes and gave them our best. If we cleaned up some turnovers and made a few more shots, we would have given ourselves a better chance to beat them. I’m so proud of our team. We challenged a top team and never gave up.
“It’s a great learning experience but also this season is full of incredible memories that will last a lifetime for these players. I’m so glad our program has now seen what it takes to beat ranked opponents, make it to a championship, and get into the NCAA tournament. That is the goal every single year. And to be better than the last”
James Madison outshot Army 26-15 in the contest and jumped out to a 6-2 lead midway through the second quarter. But the Black Knights scored the last two goals of the first half to go into the locker room at halftime down just 6-4. The Dukes scored the first three goals of the second half to extend their lead and Army was never able to get closer than four goals in the final quarter.
The Dukes’ junior Isabella Peterson, who scored 78 goals in the regular season, was held to just four tallies on Friday. Army’s Julia Gorajek and Jullia Franzoni scored three times each.