Army Finishes Perfect Patriot League Season
from press release
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Freshman attackman Garrett
Thul totaled career-highs with five goals and six points to lead
No. 20 Army to a 13-10 victory over Holy Cross, Saturday, in the
squad's regular-season finale at Michie Stadium.
The Black Knights (8-5, 6-0 PL) became the first Army team in Patriot League history to finish with a 6-0 conference mark since the league expanded to seven teams in 2000. Army had already clinched the top seed for next weekend's Patriot League Tournament, which will be played in West Point, N.Y. for the second time in the last three seasons.
"We never set out to be 6-0 and just tried to win one game at a time," said Army head coach Joe Alberici. "Today was just about Holy Cross and putting together our four best quarters. I'm not sure we did that, but credit Holy Cross for playing hard and jumping on us early. I thought our guys did a great job responding to that and not trying to make up the deficit with just one play. The ground ball game started to turn our way a little bit and then our offense shot the ball well, especially in the first half."
Army will take on fourth-seeded Bucknell, which defeated Colgate in overtime, 8-7, to earn the final spot in next week's semifinals. Navy and Lafayette will comprise the other two teams in the tournament, with final seedings still to be determined after Lafayette's game with Lehigh later this evening.
Holy Cross (5-10, 1-5 PL) jumped out to a 4-0 lead with 12:06 on the first quarter clock, but the Black Knights responded with a 9-0 run to lead 5-4 at the end of the first, and 9-4 with 14:11 left in the third quarter. The Crusaders pulled within three goals on three occasions down the stretch, but never got any closer as Army cruised to its seventh victory in its last eight games after starting the season 1-4.
Holy Cross scored on its first four shots to put a scare into the Black Knights in the early going as junior defenseman Douglas Broussard scooped up a ground ball off a faceoff and found the net to put Army in the early 4-0 hole.
"No one was trying to hit a four-point shot or anything like that," said Army senior captain Alex Gephart. "We just took it one play at a time and were able to claw back into it. That was indicative of our team this season, and our ability to never quit and desire to overcome."
Thul and sophomore midfielder Sean O'Sullivan would get the Black Knight offense on track, combining to score Army's first seven goals. O'Sullivan started by taking a feed from senior attackman Tyler Seymour and slinging home the first of his three goals on the afternoon with 11:02 on the clock. Thul would score back-to-back goals on feeds by junior midfielder Rob McCallion at 10:14 and 8:28, before O'Sullivan converted a Thul feed at 6:55 to tie the game. Thul would then collect a rebound on the Crusader crease after a saved shot and score to put the Black Knights up, 5-4, with 4:33 on the first quarter clock.
Thul kept up his torrid pace with another goal, this time on a 12-yard strike from the right side, at 13:40 of the second quarter, before O'Sullivan finished off a feed from senior midfielder Tyler Oates with a 15-yard shot at 11:50. McCallion would close out the half by bouncing home a shot with 3:33 left in the quarter to stake the Black Knights to an 8-4 halftime lead.
McCallion would open the second half the same way he closed the first with a 10-yard goal off a pass from senior captain Andrew Maisano to give Army its largest lead of the game.
Holy Cross looked to claw its way back with goals by senior attackman Edison Parzanese at 7:09 and freshman attackman James Kennedy at 6:20, but Army senior midfielder Matt Poulos would snatch the ensuing faceoff and score 13 seconds later to put the home team back up by four with 6:07 left in the third quarter.
Thul scored his fifth tally of the day with a strong move on the Crusader crease with 2:04 on the clock as Army opened a five-goal edge, 11-6, before Holy Cross finished the quarter with a score by sophomore attackman Colin McGeehin at 1:33 to make it a 11-7 Army lead after three periods.
The two teams traded five goals to finish the game. Parzanese scored from close range at 9:28, before Army sophomore midfielder Devon Lynch scored on a 10-yard shot at 6:53. Holy Cross sophomore midfielder A.J. Guarente found the net at 6:37, before Army senior attackman Jeremy Boltus logged his first goal of the day at 3:54 off a Lynch feed to put the game out of reach. HC senior midfielder Kenny Minor wrapped up the scoring with a man-up tally with 30 seconds left for the game's final goal.
Army junior goaltender Tom Palesky stopped 10 Crusader shots for his eighth double-digit save effort of the season.
"While our senior class has certainly made an impact on the field the last four years, but their bigger impact has been what they have done for us in the locker room," continued Alberici. "When you are 1-4, you count on your seniors to show the way and they certainly did. I'm very happy for them and the way we finished the regular season, but now we'll close this chapter and move on to the next one."
BLACK KNIGHT NOTES: Army improved to 20-0 all-time against Holy Cross ... the Black Knights honored their eight members of the Class of 2010 before the game. Manager Rob Dougherty, along with senior captains Alex Gephart and Andrew Maisano and Joe Conroy, Sam Harrison, Tyler Oates, Matt Poulos and Tyler Seymour were all recognized on the field in a pre-game ceremony ... freshman attackman Garrett Thul's five goals marked the fifth time this season he has scored at least four goals in a game ... he entered the week tied for fourth in the Patriot League with 2.27 goals per game ... sophomore midfielder Derek Sipperly won a career-high 12 faceoffs in 21 total trips to the "x" ... sophomore midfielder Sean O'Sullivan logged his second hat trick of the season, after also scoring four goals in the 11-8 win over Rutgers (Mar. 20) ... Army finished the regular season 6-1 when leading at halftime and 7-0 when leading after the fourth quarter ... Michie Stadium will be the site of the Patriot League Tournament for the second time in the last three years ... the host the Black Knights were also the top seed for the Patriot League Tournament in 2008, falling to fourth-seeded Bucknell, 8-7 ... senior Tyler Oates led the Black Knights onto the field before the game, carrying the American Flag ... four members of the Black Knight Parachute Team jumped into Michie Stadium and delivered the game ball.
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