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No. 2 Army lax’s scoring depth on display in another win

Photo by Mark Wellman

Supporting players Ryan Sposito, Ryan Sellew, Gunnar Fellows, Finn McCullough and Cal Lambert may, in the end, be the difference in how far this year’s still-undefeated Army men’s lacrosse squad goes in the regular season and if and when it reaches the NCAA tournament in May. 

It again became clear that the current version of the Army team may be the deepest and most talented squad at West Point in decades. Not only does No. 2 nationally-ranked Army have star talent at virtually every position, the Black Knights have the role players, who seem ready, willing and, most importantly, able to step up to help this team keep winning. 

That was crystal clear in Saturday’s Patriot League home opener matchup with Holy Cross where nine different players scored at least one goal for Army in a relatively easy 18-8 victory over the Crusaders. The victory moved Army to 6-0 on the season for the first time since 1984 and 2-0 in the Patriot League. It was the Black Knights’ 34th victory over Holy Cross in 35 games dating back to 1991, with the lone loss coming in 2015. 

Army coach Joe Alberici seemed eager to give these players some extra time on the field, even during the early moments to both gain more game experience and see how well they will perform in certain situations. The move paid off in spades for the Black Knights. Sposito, a senior midfielder from Ithaca, N.Y., scored two goals and had an assist, while Sellew also scored twice and McCullough and Lambert each had one score for Army.

Fellows, after a breakout season in 2023 where he scored 23 goals as a freshman, had his best outing of the current campaign with four goals and one assist. Freshman Mike Harney, a freshman attacker from Mahopac, N.Y., scored his second goal of the season in the fourth quarter. 

“I feel really confident about our guys,” said Sellew, a junior attacker from Glastonbury, Conn. who missed much of last season with an ACL injury.  “I feel we have a lot of guys who are getting really good game experience right now. When you get deep into the season, you want a lot of depth so you will be fresh. I am excited for these guys and what we built and will keep going.”

Sposito took it a step further. “We have four solid lines that can play at the Division I level,” he said. “I think you saw a little bit of that today. I glad we got those guys to play. Our “white” and “black” lines took care of business early on in the game so they could get their chance at the end.”

As the Black Knights start to move into the harder part of their Patriot League schedule, Alberici echoes Sellew’s comments that the more players who can contribute the better this team will perform and the less pressure there will be on its starters.

“Ryan Sposito certainly steps up to that role every time we ask him to be part of that first group,” he noted. “He just blends in so well and makes plays for us. Gunnar Fellows had his most productive day of the season. And then we have Ryan Sellew. He was a first-line midfielder for us last year before he hurt his ACL. He is back and starting to round into form. 

“These guys that I have mentioned have been playing for us but have may not have factored into the scoring column as much. This is good for their confidence and just gives us another layer in the difficulty in defending us.”

After Holy Cross scored the game’s first goal less than a minute into the contest, Army rattled off six straight scores. The Crusaders closed the Army lead to three, 7-4, early in the second quarter but the Black Knights scored five straight times to go up 12-5 early in the third quarter. That enabled Alberici to give some rarely-used players some playing time starting early in the fourth stanza, That included removing starting goalie Matt Chess, a senior, for Sean Byrne, a sophomore, who saw action in the net for the fourth time this season. 

“The key for us was how unselfish we were going to be and that was evident on the offensive side where I thought we shared the ball very well,” said Alberici. “It showed up in assists but it was all the little plays, like the picks off the ball, that were freeing some people up. We had 18 goals and only 11 turnovers. It was an outstanding job offensively.”

Senior co-captain Jacob Morin had three goals, while Jackson Eicher, the team’s leading scorer, added two goals and three assists. Reese Burek had five assists for the Black Knights. 

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