Friday, June 21, 2024

#AsForLax: Men’s Lax Gets off to a 2-0 Start!

I went to Colorado for a week, friends, and the whole world went crazy! 

Army Men’s and Women’s Basketball both got hot, Army Women’s Lacrosse stumbled in their first three contests, and Men’s Lax won both their opening contests to earn their first national Top 5 ranking since 2005.

The crazy thing is, that Mens’ Top 5 ranking is no fluke. This team looks deep, talented, and ready to rock.

Two Games. Two Wins.

The Black Knights opened their season on the road with a tough neutral-site contest against perennial opening-week opponent UMass. Army won 13-12 off a late run despite falling behind by three just after halftime and going back-and-forth on the scoreboard throughout the contest. For better or worse, this opening contest saw a little sloppiness both in passing and clearing games, causing a few unlooked-for turnovers and generally keeping the game tighter than it might have been. Happily, the Black Knights cleaned things up late and got the “W” despite leaving themselves a few things to look at on tape later that week.

They must’ve had a good film session, too, because the Army Team that hit the field at #11/#12 Rutgers this past weekend looked like a lean, mean fighting machine. 

Rutgers started hot, winning the first 4 faceoffs and going up 2-0 early. Then Army FOGO Will Coletti began to take control. Army and Rutgers traded goals fast and furious for maybe the next five minutes, giving us an even-looking contest through the first half of the first quarter. After that, though, Army’s defense put the clamps on while their offense got it in gear and flat blew the Scarlet Knights away. Army had gotten up by something like 10 points by the middle of the third quarter and had started putting in their backups by the middle of the fourth.

Friends, if you were looking for a close, competitive contest, this wasn’t it. This became a beat-down.

Coletti is now the Black Knights’ all-time faceoff leader with 487 wins through the start of his cow season. He sits 38/54 on the season with a tough road test looming on the immediate horizon. Meanwhile, four different players scored hat tricks at Rutgers, while Coletti and Defender AJ Pilate were named Patriot League Faceoff Specialist and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively. Midfielder Evan Plunkett was named to the USILA National Team of the Week.

It’s only two games, but so far, so good. The Black Knights have put themselves in position to capitalize on their preseason hype. 

Looking Forward

The Black Knights have two games this week, and they’re both challenging, though in very different ways. Army will host Mercer at Michie Stadium this Saturday at noon. They then travel to Syracuse to meet the Orange in the Dome at 6 pm on Wednesday, February 28th.

Inside Lacrosse has #6 Syracuse (4-1) hosting #7 Army (2-0).
USA Lacrosse has #6 Army visiting #9 Syracuse.
The USILA Coaches’ Poll has #5 Army visiting #8 Syracuse.

The challenge of the ‘Cuse game is obvious. It’s a Top 10 match-up against a team that has absolutely smashed damn-near everyone they’ve faced. But the Black Knights can’t afford to look ahead to that Wednesday night game because they’ve got their home opener Saturday. 

Granted, Army ought to beat Mercer (1-2) handily. Still, it’s a tough situation. A game against a “bad” team — or, at a minimum, a team that doesn’t travel well given that the Bears got blown out in both of their recent road contests — with a much tougher game on the immediate horizon. 

That sets Saturday’s contest up as a classic trap game.

Alas, we’re going to play right into that trap by jumping straight to the Syracuse preview…

Beat Syracuse!

The ‘Cuse come into next week’s match-up having won 4 of their last 5, including a 18-10 beat-down of then #20 Colgate in Week 2. The Orange’s only loss came in overtime to #4 Maryland, 13-12. That game could’ve easily gone either way.

As we might expect, this is an experienced and dangerous team making full use of the NCAA’s advanced COVID eligibility rules. Fifth year senior FOGO Matt Kohn won 21/29 faceoffs last week against Utah and held his own (13/29) against Maryland. Graduate student Goalie Will Mark has saved 56.7% of attackers’ shots-on-goal this season. Thankfully, the Cuse’s best player, Attacker Joey Spallina, is only a sophomore. Spallina has 36 points so far this season, making him the third fastest player to reach 100 points in Syracuse lax history. Spallina has been terrific, but he is far from the Orange’s only weapon.

This game will likely turn on three factors. First, Coletti will need to at least match Kohn in the faceoff game. In an otherwise evenly matched contest, faceoff wins — and possessions generally — may well become decisive. Second, Pilate will need to body-up on Spallina, neutralizing the ‘Cuse’s best player. Third, Army’s attackers will need to make their shots count because Mark has been an excellent goalie for the Orange so far this season. We’ll stop just short of calling him “the Frank Harris of college lacrosse,” but like, that’s not an unfair nickname or anything. It’s worth mentioning, too, that Army Goalie Matt Chess saved 43% of shots-on-goal against UMass and 50% against Rutgers. The Black Knights will need more of that second performance to get a win next week.


Army Men’s Basketball (10-18, 6-9) has won 4 of their last 5, including the star game over Navy. They currently sit in 7th place in the Patriot League but — amazingly — look like they may yet become one of the tournament’s most dangerous teams. This is a very young team, but when they play good defense, they can beat anybody. If the Men can get into the Top 6 in the League, they’ll host a Patriot League Tournament Game, which would be a pretty amazing accomplishment all on its own.

Women’s Basketball (11-13, 8-6) sits in 2nd place in the Patriot League off the strength of a 5-game January winning streak. They have as much chance at a conference title as any team in the League right now, though they’ll obviously have to finish playing their best ball.

Women’s Lax (0-3) got off to a rough start, dropping a close home opener to then #17 USC, followed by a tough road game against #5 Syracuse. But then they also dropped a winnable road game at Sienna. The team is therefore still looking for its first win with another tough road contest against Rutgers coming this Saturday. Thankfully, they don’t start Patriot League play until mid-March, so whatever they need to clean up, they still have some time.

Finally, Army Baseball is off to a 2-2 start after having been picked in the preseason to repeat as Patriot League Champions. So far, the team has beaten Monmouth twice and lost to Penn State twice, though it’s tough to glean any real information from these early season contests. They’ll play Fordham tomorrow as part of an early-season tournament down in Florida, and they meet Air Force on March 2nd in Sugarland, TX. Patriot League play — and therefore the heart of the actual season — doesn’t start until mid-March.

Friends, we’ve gotten a ton of requests for more As For Baseball coverage, and just so you know, we’re working on it. Thanks for your patience with that, and please, stay tuned…

Final Thoughts

This is a big week for Army Lacrosse on both the Men’s and Women’s sides. Saturday’s Men’s game against Mercer will be on ESPN+. Unfortunately, the Women’s game at Rutgers will again be on Big 10+, so no one is gonna see that one. Army at Syracuse is currently slated for The ACC Network+, which I think ought to be available as part of an ESPN+ subscription.

I guess we’ll see.

Either way, we’re in for an exciting week.

Cover image via GoArmyWestPoint.Com.



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