Swezey comments on Army lacrosse

It would be hard for the Army lacrosse team to top the historic achievement of defeating Navy twice in the same year for the first time in program history. But the Black Knights may have done it.

In an NCAA tournament first-round game, Army stunned two-time defending NCAA champion and second-seeded Syracuse, 9-8 in double overtime. Sophomore Devin Lynch scored the winning goal with 5.7 seconds left in the second overtime for Army (11-5), off an assist from junior Jeremy Boltus.

It was the first loss for Syracuse (13-2) in the Carrier Dome in NCAA tournament play since 1991.

"This is a very proud moment for the Army lacrosse family, alumni, guys who that we say everyday in the locker room who we play, all the guys overseas," Army Coach Joe Alberici told reporters after the game.

Said Syracuse Coach John Desko: "I thought [Army] stuck with their game plan very well, and you don't want to get in double-overtime against them. They're in great shape and my hat is off to them."

Lynch finished with two goals -- the other goal came with one second left in the first half and cut Army's deficit to 6-4, after the Orange had taken an early 5-1 lead.

There were several other standouts. Boltus finished with two goals and one assist despite being guarded by junior John Lade, Syracuse's top defenseman. Freshman Garrett Thul also scored two goals, both in the second half and both on identical moves: He started behind the goal, dodged hard against senior Matt Tierney and scored on a low shot past junior John Galloway (16 saves).

Meantime, four juniors also contributed. Derek Sipperly won 11 of 18 face-offs; defensive midfielders Brandon Butler and Tim Henderson each had six groundballs; and goalie Tom Palesky made 13 saves.

The Orange took an 8-6 lead on a goal by junior Stephen Keogh with 12 minutes 6 seconds remaining. It was Syracuse's final goal; it ended the season with a scoreless streak of more than 20 minutes.

Senior Cody Jamieson finished with a game-high three goals for Syracuse.

"They knew who we were and they scouted us real well," Jamieson said. "Their defense played incredible and their goalie made some saves at the end that sometimes go in and sometimes they don't."

The Black Knights tied the game at 8 on a goal in transition by Boltus, off an assist from Henderson, with 6:49 to play. Both teams had possessions after that. Syracuse's best chance came in transition in overtime when Keogh appeared to have an open shot from just outside the crease, but he dropped the pass.

Army had numerous possessions thanks to the work of Sipperly, Henderson and Butler on the wings on face-offs. Its best chance came after Thul set up Tierney behind the goal in the second overtime and went to the move that netted two goals. This time, however, Syracuse sent a second defender to Thul and as Thul raised his right hand to fend off the defender, Tierney checked Thul's stick out of his left hand to force a turnover.

Finally, as the second overtime neared its close and the crowd of 5,500 was on its feet, Boltus saw Lynch streaking to the goal on a backdoor cut. Lynch caught the pass and fired a quick shot into the top right corner of the goal.

The victory was the most recent in an eight-game winning streak that included two victories over Navy, the first time Army had beaten its longtime rival twice in the same year. (One was in the regular season, the other in the Patriot League tournament championship.)

"We have huge confidence in one-goal games knowing we can get the job done," Boltus said. "Belief in each other and belief in everyone really helped out in making this a 'W.'"

Christian Swezey is a lacrosse analyst who writes for InsideLacrosse.com and the Washington Post.

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