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No. 5 Army men’s lax stumbles to Colgate

Photo by Mark Wellman

Probably the only thing that the Army’s men’s lacrosse team can take away from its devastating 14-11 loss to Colgate Saturday afternoon will be using the game as a learning experience and hope it can help the Black Knights salvage the rest of what had been an extremely promising season. 

Not only did the Black Knights lose for the second time in two weeks, but the loss will drop the team from No. 5 in the national polls all the way to a three-way tie for fourth place in the Patriot League. Interestingly, Boston University, Colgate and a resurgent Navy are tied for first place in the league, each with a 4-1 record, while Army, Loyola and Lehigh, which Army beat in March, are all 3-2 in league play

More importantly, the defeat will likely mean that for Army to reach the NCAA playoffs in May the team will likely have to win the Patriot League six-team post-season tournament and its automatic bid into the playoff. 

That might be a tall task now, given that the Black Knights (8-2 overall) have lost to two Patriot League teams in the last 15 days and now must face Navy at Michie Stadium next Saturday at 1 p.m., followed by a trip to Loyola in two weeks. Army finishes the regular season with a road game at Bucknell on April 27, which will determine if Black Knights have to play two games (the top two teams in the regular season get a bye) or three games, perhaps all on the road, in the Patriot League tournament. 

On Saturday, despite an outstanding performance by junior faceoff specialist Will Coletti, who won 79 percent of 28 faceoffs and had 10 groundballs, Colgate dominated the contest. The Raiders, with goalie Matt LaCombe making 18 saves in the net, rattled off six straight goals in the third and fourth quarters to break open an 8-8 game. 

Army’s offense, meanwhile, seemed off the entire game. Junior Jackson Eicher, the Black Knights leading scorer this season, scored four times, but took 14 shots on goal. Senior Jacob Morin, another leading scorer, had just two goals on 10 shots. Plus, the Black Knights, who came into the game with one of the nation’s lowest turnover rates per game, had 24 turnovers, double their average.

“A lot of credit to Colgate,” said Army coach Joe Alberici. “They played hard. They played (in the game) the way they played on film. Aggressively, making plays. We got it to 8-8 and we gave them the juice right back and that was the difference.”

Alberici also felt that his team did not play up to its potential all game, despite Coletti’s performance and the fact that Army forced 30 Colgate turnovers in the contest.

“I was disappointed in our execution,” he said. “We went into the game wanting to clear the ball well and I thought we did a good job of that. We created some good opportunities, but we came up short on finishing some of them, especially in empty net situations.”

Alberici was also quick to give LaCombe a lot of credit for his performance in net, though he also took issue with the shot selection of some of his veteran players.

“I would have liked to see us do a little better with our shot location but that happened,” Alberici added. “We have no time to feel sorry for ourselves is what I told the guys (after the game). We get back to it on Monday and get ready for the biggest game of the year.

The Navy game.

“We have to get back to our skills and fundamentals and make sure that there is not a repeat,” Alberici said. “We make our opponent beat us and we do not beat ourselves.”

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