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Casey Reynolds makes impact in No. 1 Army win over Lehigh

Photo by Mark Wellman

Less than 100 yards from Michie Stadium, where Army, the top-ranked and undefeated Division I men’s lacrosse team, defeated Lehigh 18-12 for its seventh straight win, the Black Knights football team was holding its first spring practice scrimmage. 

Missing from that practice game was junior wide receiver Casey Reynolds, who caught a team-high 16 passes for the Black Knights last fall. 

But, all was good. Reynolds has permission from football coach Jeff Monken and lacrosse coach Joe Alberici to play the two sports for the Black Knights – football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring – as long as he is able to contribute in a meaningful way to both teams. 

Thus far, this unusual agreement is working out great for both teams. Reynolds has made his presence felt for the football team and, this year, the midfielder is playing a larger role in the lacrosse team’s rise to the top of that sport’s hierarchy. On Saturday, he even scored a goal, the first of his career to help the Black Knights move to 7-0 for the first time since 1958 and remain one of just two undefeated (Quinnipiac is the other) teams in the nation in Division I lacrosse.

“I am super fortunate that Coach Alberici and Coach Monken and their staffs allow me to do both and be flexible with my schedule and their schedules to create time and allow me to play both sports,” he said. “It is tough, but I love it because I love the culture of the lacrosse team and the culture in this locker room as well as the culture in the football locker room. It is super nice to be able to do both and they support me to do it.”

Alberici, now in his 19th year as the Army lacrosse coach, said that he and Monken agreed that the arrangement could work providing Reynolds was contributing to both teams. 

“I think it is great that Coach Monken lends him out to us here for the second semester,” Alberici said. “It really came down to if Casey was going to make an impact and he has had that opportunity this year to make an impact. The last couple of years, he was just a little green because he had been playing football. 

“But, he has started to figure it out.  You can see his athleticism, his speed and his toughness and all of those things that come out as a football player and come out on the lacrosse field and technique-wise, he is just getting better and better.  He is understanding what we want to do defensively and is an extremely valuable part of our defense.”

Reynolds is just one of the many tools that Alberici is utilizing during the season that has kept Army ahead of its competition. Ten different players scored goals against Lehigh, including four by junior Jackson Eicher, who has returned from a season-ending injury last year to be the top goal scorer for Army this year, and three goals by senior Jacob Morin. 

But many other players are also contributing and some of them, including Reynolds, are not necessarily starters. Against Lehigh, substitutes Ryan Sposito, Cal Lambert and Christian Fournier, a long-stick midfielder, all scored goals to help defeat the Mountain Hawks and move Army to 3-0 in the Patriot League. 

“I think as the weather heats up, we just need to play more people,” Alberici said. “We have a pretty talented second group of midfielders. There is never a doubt about our first group and how strongly we feel about those guys. But, there is a lot of depth on this team, guys who can produce and help us win.”

Also, sophomore Gunnar Fellows, who is a starter at attack, pumped in two goals and had three assists, including a nifty pass to Reynolds, is continuing to play a larger role in serving as a type of quarterback or coordinator of the Army offense. 

“Gunnar can do anything for us,” added Alberici. “He is terrific off the ball and very intelligent off the ball. When the ball is in his stick, you can count on him making good decisions. He is another guy that affects winning in so many ways, whether in subtle ways like picks and ground balls and other ways that show up in stat sheets like goals and assists.”

Fellows sees his role as simply playing any position that the coaching staff asks. “I am just trying to make my teammates better in everything I do,” he said. “I am hoping that I can do the little things that can make the offense better. I will take any role that the coach needs me to play.”

Army now faces four difficult games, visiting Boston University on Friday for a 5 p.m. contest with the always-difficult Terriers. The Black Knights visit North Carolina, from the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference, on March 20 before coming home to Colgate on April 6 and Navy, which knocked off Johns Hopkins on Friday night, 10-9, in overtime on April 13.

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