April 30, 2010
The most storied rivalry in sports stormed Day of Rivals, with Navy's defense keying an 8-4 win. © Kevin P. Tucker.
The most storied rivalry in sports stormed Day of Rivals, with Navy's defense keying an 8-4 win. © Kevin P. Tucker.

Army, Navy to Meet in Patriot League Final

from press releases and staff reports

Army edged Navy in a controversial finish at the Day of Rivals at M&T Bank Stadium in mid-April, but the Mids now have a chance to settle the school. The two service academies advanced to the Patriot League championship game with Army beating Bucknell 9-7 and Navy outlasting Lafayette 11-9. The Army-Navy tilt takes place at Army on Sunday, May 2 at 3 p.m. and will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.

Army 9, Bucknell 7
Army senior attackman Tyler Seymour scored career-highs with five points and four goals to lead the Black Knights to a 9-7 come-from-behind victory over Bucknell in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at Michie Stadium.

The fourth-seeded Bison opened a 4-0 lead with 12:15 left in the second quarter, but top-seeded Army outscored the visitors 5-1 over the next 26:20 to tie the score, 5-5, after three quarters. The Bison again looked to take control with a pair of goals in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but four unanswered Black Knights tallies over the final 13:03, including three-straight by Seymour, put Army in its first Patriot League Tournament championship game since making back-to-back appearances in 2005 and 2006.

Junior goalkeeper Tom Palesky made 17 saves, including 11 to keep it close in the first half, while junior Jeremy Boltus logged a goal and three assists in the squad's sixth-straight victory.

"Today was a great win for our guys," said Army head coach Joe Alberici. "I'm really proud of the way they hung in there all the way through. I thought a critical point was the third quarter that gave us a little confidence when our offense had been sputtering to that point. When we went down, 7-5, I think a lot of people counted us out because they thought, maybe, we had done what we could to get back into the game, but didn't have much left. I was really proud of the men that are in our locker room and how they continued to battle. The defense really clamped down, Tom (Palesky) was nothing but spectacular in goal, and then we got things going on the offensive end. "

It was all Bucknell in the early going. Junior midfielder Ryan Klipstein scored a man-up goal following an Army slashing penalty at 13:19 as the Bison controlled possession for most of the first quarter. Sophomore attackman Billy Eisenreich bulled his way through three Army defenders and stuffed home a goal with 5:55 on the clock. Sophomore midfielder Nick Gantsoudes finished off a six-yard run at 2:58 to stake the Bison to a three-goal edge after the first quarter.

An unassisted goal by senior attackman Austin Winter after juking out an Army defender made it 4-0 in favor of Bucknell with 12:15 on the second-quarter clock.

Boltus took a feed from Seymour on the Bucknell crease and scored Army's first goal at 10:19, before sophomore midfielder Devin Lynch finished a strong run with a goal  with 4:45 left in the quarter.

Bucknell would re-take a three-goal lead into halftime on a shot by Klipstein that looked to be saved but trickled behind Palesky with 3:34 on the clock.

Thul started a 4-0 Black Knight run to start the third quarter with a 12-yard shot that went through Bucknell freshman goalkeeper Kyle Feeney's legs at 13:46. Just over a minute later, sophomore midfielder Sean O'Sullivan struck on a 15-yard shot off a pass from senior attackman Tyler Oates to pull Army within one, 5-4, with 12:36 to play in the quarter.

Seymour took a Boltus feed from behind the crease and scored on a seven-yard shot with 55 seconds showing to tie the game, 5-5, and set up the wild fourth quarter.

Bison senior midfielder Chris Palmer scored from close range at 14:07, before sophomore midfielder Charlie Streep scored on a 10-yard laser a minute later to put the visitors back up 7-5 with 13:03 remaining.

The Black Knights answered less than a minute later as Seymour scored a pair of goals off Boltus feeds only 54 seconds apart to knot the game back up, 7-7,  with 11:00 to play. The first goal came in transition following a big save by Palesky, before the second came on an eight-yard shot from the left side of the cage.

Seymour gave Army its first lead of the game with his fourth tally of the afternoon, stuffing a shot from close range past Feeney with 4:59 to play in the game. Junior midfielder Rob McCallion added the insurance goal with 1:54 remaining to seal the win. Feeney came out of the crease on a re-start to help double-team Boltus, but Boltus rolled a pass to McCallion 10 yards in front of the cage that he scooped up and zinged into the empty net for the game's final strike.

Navy 11, Lafayette 9
Anchored by junior attackman Andy Warner's (Corning, N.Y.) career-high four goals, the Navy men's lacrosse team (7-7) used a nine-goal second half to score an 11-9 come-from-behind win over third-seeded Lafayette (8-6) Friday evening in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals held at Army's Michie Stadium. Winners of five of the six previous tournaments, Navy will make its sixth appearance in the Patriot League finals when it battles arch rival Army on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

"Getting by this team was a big deal for us," said Navy head coach Richie Meade, who has directed the Mids to an 11-1 all-time record in the Patriot League Tournament. "The last time we played, Lafayette kicked our butts. They won every phase of the game, including the battle of will and the battle of emotion. Today we started out exactly the same way as we did that night. We had to come a long way to stop it and come back. Our team has this quality to fight. I'm thankful for the win."

Lafayette grabbed the early lead when middie Kevin Dunbar fed All-Patriot League attackman Tom Perini, who threaded his shot past 2010 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) at the 12:29 mark.

The Midshipmen tied things up at the five-minute mark when sophomore attackman Ryan O'Leary (East Meadow, N.Y.) caught leading scorer Patrick Moran (Annapolis, Md.) cutting from the left wing. Moran stuck his five-yarder to push his season goal total to 24.

Lafayette, however, scored the final two goals of the opening quarter, including a wrap-around shot by Matt Mersky with 30.6 seconds remaining to take a 3-1 advantage into the second quarter.

Navy trimmed the lead to one just under four minutes into the second quarter on a crank shot by O'Leary. But less than a minute later, a bouncer by Colin Serling sparked a three-goal run by the Leopards, giving Lafayette a 6-2 lead at the break.

"I told the guys at the half, 'there's nothing I can say to you to turn this around, you're going to have to do it yourself,'" said Meade.

"They were outhustling us," said All-Patriot League defenseman Michael Hirsch (Schwenksville, Pa.). "They are a hard-working, scrappy bunch of guys."

"We just didn't come out mentally prepared," added Warner. "We have this thing about starting out slow ... that needs to change for us to be successful."

And it did in the second half. Eerily similar to last week's Johns Hopkins contest, the Mids managed to put together a 5-0 run in the third quarter to get back into the game. The run was led by last week's hero Warner, who scored the game-winner against Hopkins in overtime. Warner scored an extra-man goal, his eighth of the year, at the 13:10 mark and then fired off a 10-yarder just nine seconds later to narrow Lafayette's lead to 6-4.

For the second straight game, the Mids got help from the opposition in the scoring column. Lafayette defenseman Paul Hammer came up with a loose ball and as he was being pressured by the Mids, he turned back towards the goal and threw the ball in the direction of his teammate. In doing so, however, his pass caught the inside of the right post and into the net at the 9:24 mark.

Just over 30 seconds later, Moran found senior attackman Brendan Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) three yards in front of the crease for the game-tying goal. Navy took its first lead of the game at the 7:18 mark when Warner took the extra step on his defender and sent an eight-yard shot high from the left wing.

The Mids held their lead for nearly six minutes before Serling ran in from the right wing untouched and powered in his shot past Wickham.

With the game deadlocked at 7-7 for nearly half of the final period, Navy scored three straight to take the lead for good. Moran got things started with his ninth extra-man goal of the year at the 7:57 mark and that was followed just over a minute later by a power lefty shot from senior middie Joe Lennon (Westminster, Md.). That late goal extended Lennon's scoring streak to 17 straight games, a streak that began with his four-goal output against Colgate in last year's Patriot League semifinals.

Navy capped its run when Warner wrapped around the left side of the cage and poked in his shot over the shoulder of Lafayette keeper Vinny DePasquale. It's the second time this season a Navy player has scored four goals in a game, as Connors produced four scores in the Mids' one-goal loss to Towson.

Lafayette, however, was not done. Refusing to give in, Mersky scored an unassisted goal with 4:02 remaining to cut into the Mids' lead. With under a minute to go in the game, Warner was flagged for a hold. After coming up empty on its previous five extra-man attempts, Mersky fired in a shot from two yards out to get the Leopards to within one, 10-9, with 38 seconds remaining.

Navy's Logan West (Berlin, Md.) won the ensuing faceoff and spread the field. Lafayette pulled its keeper out of the goal in the hopes of forcing a Navy turnover, but instead O'Leary fired in the insurance goal on an open net with 10 seconds to go.

Warner led the way for the Mids with four goals, while Connors and Moran each turned in four-point performances. West took all 24 draws for Navy, winning a career-high 11 while also pacing the Mids with a career-best seven ground balls.

Mersky paced Lafayette with four goals, while Perini and Serling each pitched in two.

Army and Navy will battle for the right to represent the Patriot League in the 2010 NCAA Championship when the two meet on Sunday for the Patriot League title. Navy has won five of the six previously played tournaments (2004-05-06-07-09), while Army has never won the conference tournament since its inception in 2004. Army and Navy, however, have twice faced one another for the conference title. The Mids earned a 15-8 win over the Black Knights in 2005 and in 2006, Navy posted an 8-5 win.

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