Men’s Lacrosse crowned PL champions

By Ally Keirn Army Athletic Communications

 The Army West Point Men’s Lacrosse team celebrates after winning the Patriot League Tournament championship with a 11-7 victory over Lehigh in Baltimore. It is the Black Knights first NCAA berth since 2010.

For the first time in nine years the No. 18/19 Army West Point Men’s Lacrosse team is Patriot League Champions after defeating Lehigh, 11-7, Sunday afternoon at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore.
Army captured its 12th league title, the most of any school surpassing Navy’s 11.
The Black Knights found themselves down 5-3 at the half following five unanswered goals by Lehigh in the second quarter.
Fortunately, Army regrouped after the break outscoring its foe 8-2 in the remaining two quarters to secure its second Patriot League Tournament crown.
Freshman attack Brendan Nichtern led the Army attack with three goals and three assists to finish with six points on the day.
All three of those goals came during the Black Knights’ 6-0 fourth-quarter run to close out the game.
Lehigh had extended its lead to 7-5 with 13 minutes to play but Army never lost hope as it watched Nichtern fire a shot past James Spence a little more than a minute later to cut the deficit down to one.
That goal jump started a Black Knights’ rally that saw the Massapequa, New York, native score two more times, along with goals from senior attack Tommy Marino, junior attack Sean O’Brien and senior attack Nate Jones.
Senior goaltender AJ Barretto had another impressive outing between the posts for Army making 12 saves.
For that accomplishment and for Friday night’s performance against top-seeded Loyola, Barretto was named the Patriot League Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The tournament MVP finished the week with a .698 save percentage and a 5.40 goals against average as Army won three games in six days.
Junior defenseman Tom Rigney totaled a team-best four ground balls, while Patriot League Defender of the Year senior Johnny Surdick, Barretto and sophomore long stick midfielder Kyle Beyer registered three apiece.
Army improved to 13-4 on the year to clinch a new program record in wins. Head coach Joe Alberici is now 131-99 at Army.
The Black Knights boasts a 799-396-7 all-time mark in their 102-year history.

How it happened
• The Black Knights had a hot start with a three-goal first quarter.
• DeWitt scored back-to-back goals to kick off the game for Army.
• Nichtern and junior midfielder Matt Manown set up the plays.
• Jones extended the team’s lead to 3-0 when sophomore attack Nicholas Garofano connected with him on the left side.
• The second quarter was all about the Mountain Hawks when they used a 5-0 run to pull in front 5-3.
• To start the third quarter, Nichtern found Garofano in front to cut the Mountain Hawks’ lead to one with 13:53 on the clock.
• Lehigh extended its lead back to two goals however at the 5:20 mark to make it a 6-4 game.
• The Black Knights kept pushing though and scored with six seconds remaining in the quarter to again pull within one.
• On a quick transition, Beyer connected with Manown for the last second score.
• Lehigh started the fourth with a goal, but Army bounced back with a 6-0 run to clinch the game.
• O’Brien came into the game and made an immediate impact.
• Feeding from behind, O’Brien found Nichtern up top to catch Lehigh’s Spence off guard.
• Marino continued to spark the offensive charge with a man-up goal from Nichtern.
• O’Brien sniped one past the goal line on a righty crease roll before Nichtern racked up two.
• With 53 seconds on the clock, Jones stamped the victory with a final transition goal with an assist by Surdick.

Army highlights and game notes
• The Black Knights broke the program record for wins in a single season with 13 after Sunday’s victory.
• Army’s previous record was 12 which was last set by head coach Joe Alberici in 2017 (12-4). The 1993 team also reached 12 wins, setting the previous record.
• The Cadets played 180 minutes of lacrosse this week after earning three victories in six days.
• Army’s six unanswered goals to close out the game was a testament to the team’s physical and mental toughness in any situation.
• Barretto made double-digit saves for the 11th time this season after accumulating 12 in the game.
• He now has 566 saves in his career and remains fourth all-time at Army.
• Nichtern closed out the championship game with six points on an even three goals and three assists.
• The freshman completed the Patriot League Tournament with six goals, 11 assists and 17 points.
• Nichtern has amassed 80 points this year and sits at second in single-season scoring.
• He eclipsed the single-season assists record Friday night and increased his total on the year to 50 today.
• In career numbers, Nichtern’s 50 helpers ranks 19th all-time at Army. He jumped ahead of Rob Manning ‘96 and Mike Colon ‘95 for the slot.
• Nichtern has tallied at least one point in all 17 games this year.
• O’Brien, Jones, Garofano, Manown and DeWitt posted two points apiece.
• Surdick garnered his first assist of the season, while Beyer was the other long pole with a helper.
• Marino notched the Black Knights’ lone man-up goal of the contest.
• Jones’ two points increased his career total to 154.
• The senior captain is now 12th at Army in points, while he ranks tied for seventh in career goals with 118.
• He is now tied with Jim Wagner ‘05 and Dan Brostek ‘96.
• Rigney finished the game with four ground balls and a caused turnover.
• Beyer had an outstanding performance with a team-leading three caused turnovers, three ground balls and an assist.
• Surdick and Barretto also had three ground balls in the game.

Up next
• The Black Knights earned the Patriot League bid to the tournament.
• Army has played in the NCAA Tournament 20 times.
• The last berth was in 2010.
• The Cadets were national champions in 1923, 1944, 1945, 1951, 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1969.