The fourth-seeded Army Black Knights men’s lacrosse team travels to Annapolis on Friday afternoon to take part in the Patriot League Tournament. Army will take on the hosts, and number one seeds, when they face Navy in a game that starts at 4:30 p.m. This game is then followed by a second semi-final that features second seed Loyola taking on third-seeded Bucknell. The two winners will meet in the championship game at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. All games will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
If this all feels a little like déjà vu you can be forgiven. This is the second straight season in which the two service academies have met in the Patriot League semis, and thus the second straight season where the two teams have faced off twice in a season. The two teams played an overtime classic less than two weeks ago on April 16, a thriller that Navy won 11-10 in overtime. Army will have to put the end of that game out of their minds and go in fresh and with positive thinking if they are to upset the Mids on their home field.
Recent playoff form is on the side of the Black Knights. Navy leads the all-time Patriot League series between the two schools with a 3-2 record. The two Army victories, however, have come in the last two postseason meetings. Amy also looked good last time out in the first round of the tournament with a dominating 13-6 win over fifth-seeded Lehigh. Interestingly Army had nine different goal scorers in the game, with no player scoring more than twice, suggesting that the Black Knights will be carrying a balanced and focused attack into the game on Friday.
Despite the goal output against Lehigh, this game is likely to be decided by defense. In a win or go home scenario the contest pitches the Midshipmen and their number one ranked defense in the nation (allowing just 6.77 per game) against an Army unit ranked sixth in the country on that same list. Add in two of the best goalies in the conference and you have the makings of a defensive classic.
One area where the Black Knights could have the edge, however, is on man-up offense. Army has been decent all year in situations with a player advantage, scoring 23 goals on 52 chances for a conversion rate of 44.2-percent. Over the last three games, however, the Black Knights have been on fire, scoring on the right of 11 chances at a rate of 72.7 percent. If this strike rate can be carried over then Army will be in with a great chance of turning over the Mids as they defend their turf.