Army win over Syracuse called "mind boggling"

The Army men's lacrosse team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of college lacrosse. Few gave Army a chance to pull off an upset over the defending national champions. But hard work and dedication would give Army the edge it needed when the game was on the line.

Lacrosse is a sport in which Army was not expected to do particularly well. This season the Black Knights limped out to a poor, 2-4 record that including a 1-point loss at rival Air Force. However, the Cadets got their act together and won seven of their next eight contests including a rare 1-point win at rival Navy.

The fine finish to their regular season set the Black Knights up fine in the Patriot League Tournament. Army not only would compete in it, they would host the tournament. West Point edged Bucknell in game No. 1, 9-7. Then it was another meeting with their nemesis, Navy. Could the Black Knights down a normally tough Mid squad again? Yes they could and they did, 11-8.

After winning the Patriot title, the Army nation celebrated but a meeting with defending national champion Syracuse loomed on the horizon. Army had lost to the Orange, 12-7, during that ugly stretch early in the regular season. While the Army nation celebrated the Patriot title, few lacrosse experts gave the Black Knights a chance against the tough Syracuse squad.

However, Army head coach Joe Alberici had the right idea after the title victory over Navy. "All I want to do over the next week and half is just get better. That's been our formula - it hasn't been about who the next team is that we're going to play, it's just been about getting better." You see, good coaches don't gloat in their accomplishments; they are always working to get to the next level. Army is lucky to have a coach like Alberici because his work ethic would pay off on Sunday.

In a game televised on ESPNU, Army fell behind early, 5-1, and it looked like it would be a repeat of the regular season match up. However, Army would battle back and a goal by Jeremy Boltus cut the lead to 5-3 in the second period.

The Orange lead looked secure when they expanded their lead to 7-4 in the third period. Army answered with two consecutive scored goals to that pulled them within one of the defending champs. But Syracuse tallied another go to pull back ahead, 8-6, in the final period. That's when the hard work for the previous week and a half paid off. Army just out-worked the Orange during money time. A goal by the Black Knight's Garrett Thul followed another Boltus goal tied the game at 8-8. Syracuse could not answer in regulation and the match headed to overtime.

After a scoreless initial overtime period, the game headed to double overtime. Syracuse looked tired while Army was prepared. Boltus, who already had two goals on the day, drove toward the cage as a decoy but passed the ball off quickly to Devin Lynch for an Army winning goal. As the Syracuse team sank to the turf in despair, Army's victorious, hard working, Black Knights erupted into celebration on the field.

Sean Burns of InsideLacrosse.com writes that, "There's no question that this is an upset of monumental proportions." Christian Swezey of the same publication calls the Army win was, "Mind boggling". To get an idea of how big this upset was consider that before Sunday's contest Syracuse had played 24 NCAA games at home and had only lost one contest. The Orange have an impressive 61 NCAA tournament victories in their history while Army has only four. Also consider that the Black Knight's big win over the No. 2 Orange ended a 15 game home win streak for the losing squad.

For Army now, the celebration is over. Army has to get back to work; that's what winning teams do. You see, Army has a high noon meeting on Sunday in Stony Brook with another tough squad: the No. 7 ranked Cornell Big Red.

InsideArmySports.com Top Stories