Army Sinks Navy for First-Ever Patriot Tourney Crown

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army junior goalkeeper Tom Palesky was named tournament MVP after leading the Black Knights to a 11-8 victory over Navy to win the 2010 Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Championship, Sunday afternoon at Michie Stadium.

Junior attackman Jeremy Boltus garnered all-tournament honors after scoring five points on two goals and three assists as Army (10-5) won its first-ever Patriot League Tournament crown. After falling to Navy in the championship game in 2005 and 2006, the third time was the charm as the Black Knights secured their first appearance in the NCAA since 2005 and 16th overall.

Trailing 4-3 with 5:20 left in the second quarter, top-seeded Army broke the game open with a decisive 5-0 run to lead 8-4 with 5:55 left in the third quarter. Second-seeded Navy scored two unanswered to cut the deficit to two, 8-6, with 12:56 left in the fourth quarter, but Army would finish the game on a 3-2 run, while building a 36-19 edge in ground balls to seal the victory.

Palesky was credited with 12 saves after compiling 17 in Friday's 9-7 semifinal victory over Bucknell. He joined Boltus, senior attackman Tyler Seymour and junior defenseman Bill Henderson on the all-tournament team.

After starting the season with a 1-4 record, Army rebounded to win nine of its next 10 games, and will take a seven-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament. Sunday's victory also marked the first time the Black Knights ever beat Navy twice in one season after also taking a 7-6 decision two weeks ago at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

“This was a typical Army-Navy game. It was a great battle between two good teams that are well-coached,” said Army head coach Joe Alberici. “It had to take one of our most complete efforts of the season, and I felt like today might have been that. Nothing takes the place of a championship format in coming out on top. I'm really excited for this group of guys that, at one point, were 1-4 and had every reason to start pointing their finger at everyone else and mail it in. The guys stuck with the plan, believed in one another and stayed together as a family.”

“It's pretty wild to think of when you think of where we came from,” added senior captain Alex Gephart. “We are still that same team that dropped those close games to opponents that we, in the locker room, thought we should have won. That drives us. It's days like today where we have an opportunity to right all of our wrongs and make up for the past.”

Navy scored the first two goals of the game before Army answered with two of its own to make the score 2-2 after the first quarter of play. Senior attackman Brendan Connors shook off an Army defender and scored from close range 49 seconds into the game, before junior attackman Andy Warner did the same to put the Mids up 2-0 at the 9:56 mark. Boltus would get into the action after grabbing a rebound on the Navy crease and scoring with 4:39 to play in the quarter, before Thul converted an 18-yard rocket from the right side two knot the game back up.

The squads would trade goals twice in the second quarter. Navy senior midfielder Patrick Moran would bounce home a tally at 12:46, before junior midfielder Rob McCallion would finish off a Boltus feed for a man-up goal at 7:42. Midshipmen senior midfielder Joe Lennon would score a nice goal in transition at at 5:20, before Army sophomore midfielder Devon Lynch started the Black Knights' run with a score off a pass from senior midfielder Andrew Maisano with 3:40 on the clock.

Boltus would hit a wide-open freshman attackman Garrett Thul on the Navy crease for the first of his four goal goals on the day to give Army a 5-4 lead at 2:11 that it would take into intermission. The Black Knights would keep hammering away in the third quarter as senior attackman Tyler Oates converted a low-lining rip from 11 yards away at the 12:46 mark, before Maisano ran in on goal after a strong dodge on the left side to make it a 7-4 lead at 7:18. McCallion hit an open Seymour on the Navy crease for a man-up conversion with 5:55 left in the period for the four-goal lead.

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