It has been three days since the Black Knights turned the lacrosse world upside down and people are still trying to make sense of Army’s collosal upset over Syracuse. How was this possible? Following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., Syracuse, which had been ranked No.1 earlier this year, had to be considered by many as the favorite.
The Orange have played dominant lacrosse all year, including a convincing victory over the Black Knights earlier this year when senior attackman Chris Daniello and junior attackman Stephen Keogh each tallied four goals. It was the second of four straight losses for Army, whose captains said it led to some soul searching within the team and eventually to their revival.
Devin Lynch’s double overtime goal gave the Black Knights their first NCAA Tournament win in 17 years and now leaves Army lacrosse followers looking toward Cornell to see if this magical ride can continue. Army lost to Cornell earlier this season in overtime, but there is one player chomping at the bit for a rematch — freshman attackman Garrett Thul, who notched four goals against the Big Red.
If the Black Knights want to punch their ticket to the Final Four, though, they can’t get outhustled again by the Big Red. Cornell beat Army in a key stat in lacrosse, which is the ground ball, by a margin of 38-30. To those new to lacrosse, a ground ball is just like it sounds, a ball hitting the ground often after an errant pass. Ground balls often decide games because it shows who wants it more.
The second key stat is the faceoff. Just like they did against Syracuse, Army faceoff specialist Derek Sipperly and wings Tim Henderson and Brendan Butler will have to win faceoffs to dictate the pace of the game. Cornell won 20 out of 28 faceoffs in their first meeting.
The match is set for Sunday at noon at Stoney Brook’s home field. If the Black Knights can pull off another shocker, the Black Knights are in line to face Virginia in the national semifinals over Memorial Day Weekend.
Before moving on to Cornell, though, I have to say I slightly disagree with excellent D.C.-area sports writer Patrick Stevens on where this upset ranks. I don’t know how this one falls behind Johns Hopkins’ upset over Maryland. Sure that 1987 Maryland team was one of the best in lacrosse history not to win a national championship, but Johns Hopkins has always been a traditional lacrosse power. This is Army’s first tournament win in 17 years over a Syracuse team playing in the Carrier Dome against a service academy. It gets the top slot.