February 12, 2016
Army opened the 2016 season on Friday afternoon with a 9-5 win over visiting UMass. (Army Athletics)
Army opened the 2016 season on Friday afternoon with a 9-5 win over visiting UMass. (Army Athletics)

Plebe Goalie, Balanced Scoring Gives Army Win Over UMass

by Ken McMillan | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

WEST POINT, N.Y. – It's traditional for upperclassmen at West Point to give freshmen – otherwise known as plebes – a hard time during their rookie year. It's part indoctrination and part schooling.

After watching freshman A.J. Barretto make three saves and hold Massachusetts to five goals in a season-opening 9-5 victory, Army senior captain Jimbo Moore is going to take it easy on his teammate.

"He can be my buddy all the time,'' Moore said.

Barretto is the first Army freshman goalkeeper to start a season opener since 1991 when Nick Aguilar did it. Cited as the top scholastic goalkeeper in the nation last year at Saint Paul's School in Baltimore, Barretto filled in admirably for graduated standout Sam Somers, one of the nation's top stoppers the past three seasons.

"Not only is he very good but he plays with a lot of poise,'' said Army coach Joe Alberici. "I am glad he got that first one under his belt.''

"Filling in for Sam Somers' shoes, that's kind of ridiculous,'' Barretto said. "It feels really good getting that first one out of the way. We have been working at this for so long. You get so much time to practice in the fall and winter, you get used to everyone. All the nerves go away when you play with them.''

It got pretty dicey for Barretto and Army when Massachusetts rallied from a 5-2 deficit to tie the match at 5-5 on Grant Consoletti's goal 56 seconds into the fourth quarter. But Army dominated play the rest of the way, picking up goals from Moore, Nate Jones (his second), Conor Glancy and Cole Johnson in the final period.

Asked what concerned him most, UMass coach Greg Cannella cited, "Our lack of scoring punch."

"You can't play in this game of lacrosse and score five goals and expect to win,'' Cannella said. "You can't put that type of pressure on your defense. We get it to 5-5 in the fourth and we can't seem to get another offensive possession. We have to find different ways to score.''

"We had a lot of energy going our way and they made a couple more plays than us early in the fourth, and we have to learn from that and take that away from the game,'' said UMass senior defenseman Bob Fahey. "In the future we have to make those two or three extra plays instead of that other team.''

The Minutemen are trying to find some offensive solutions following the transfer of Nick Mariano (22 goals, 20 assists) to Syracuse. Freshman Ben Spencer scored twice, as did Jake Lisauskas, Gianni Bianchin and Consoletti. Cannella said he hopes the offense will come around soon.

"That depends on them,'' he said. "We left some opportunities out there on the field, and if you convert those opportunities, the transition opportunities and the unsettled opportunities, then you feel a lot better about your offense six-on-six ... you are not playing with as much pressure.''

Army graduated current Boston Cannon John Glesener and his 34 goals, and Alberici said this week that the Black Knights have no player expected to score five goals in a game and they have to score by committee to make up the difference. Army got exactly that on a chilly Friday with eight different goal scorers. Freshman Nate Jones netted a pair, with Ted Glesener, Shea Mullins, Dalton MacAfee, Dan Grabher, Moore, Glancy and Johnson tallying one apiece.

"It's starting to become a staple of the team, the distribution,'' Moore said. "We knew from the beginning that team effort would have to be the thing and get us wins; today, that really showed. We don't have one single person to get five goals but we have nine different guys who can get one or two when we need them.''

UMass split goalkeeper duties as it seeks to replace Zach Oliveri, who transferred to Stony Brook in the offseason. D.J. Smith made four of eight stops in the first half. Dan Dolan stopped nine of 14 Army shots in the second half.

This game was moved from a Saturday start because of expected single-digit temperatures. The conditions weren't as bad as expected on Friday, Alberici said, and he said his team showed tremendous resolve after having to be up at 6:50 in the morning for military formation and attend classes until 9:30 a.m.

"We showed a lot of toughness today, mental toughness as well as physical toughness ... that's what I am most proud of,'' Alberici said. "I thought we got away from our fundamentals in the third quarter – some of the 50-50 groundballs started to come up more UMass – and we kind of righted the ship in the fourth quarter.''

Army held a 7-6 groundball edge in the final quarter and won five of six draws. The defense held UMass to just one shot in the fourth quarter.

Massachusetts returns to action on Feb. 20 when the Minutemen host Ohio State at noon. On the same day, Army will host Rutgers at 2:30 p.m.

Shea Mullins (7) was one of eight different scorers from Army in its win over UMass. (Army Athletics)

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