Army was eight years behind Navy in elevating women’s lacrosse to varsity status. It took less time than that for the Black Knights to catch up to the Midshipmen.
Sophomore attacker Julia Gorajek scored four goals and Army dominated possession throughout in upsetting No. 24 Navy, 14-9, Saturday in Annapolis. Junior midfielder Jolie Riedell scored three goals for the Black Knights, who beat the Midshipmen for the first time in seven meetings.
Navy won the first five meetings by an average margin of 12 goals. However, the Black Knights made dramatic improvement last season and only lost 13-12 to the Mids at West Point, setting up a turning point in the rivalry this time around.
A partisan crowd of just under 1,000 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium watched in disbelief as visiting Army controlled play from start to finish. On the offensive end, the Black Knights ran their sets methodically and worked to get high-percentage shots. On the defensive end, sophomore goalie Lacey Bartholomay repeatedly frustrated the Mids and finished with 17 saves.
“We were on defense a lot. They were controlling it, then we got a little frantic about scoring,” Navy coach Cindy Timchal said. “We had a lot of shots into the goalie’s stick or off pipes. I’m not going to take anything away from their goalie, who played well, but maybe we were just tight and tentative for the game because this was such a big game.”
Remarkably, Navy outshot Army, 42-25, with the difference being the quality of those attempts. Army scored four goals off free position shots, including one into an empty net when Navy goalie Jo Torres had to come out after committing a foul.
“We have to play cleaner. We can’t be getting yellow cards and put them in position to get those free position shots they were finishing,” Timchal said.
On the other end, the Midshipmen started aiming too much after Bartholomay started the game hot and stole some possible early goals.
“We got outshot by almost 20, but that doesn’t matter. All that counts are the ones that go into the net,” first-year Army coach Michelle Tumolo said. “Their goalie is incredible, so we just needed to make sure we were taking quality shots.”
Senior midfielder Gil Eby scored four goals to lead Navy (13-3, 7-1), which suffered its first Patriot League loss. Senior midfielder Kasey Dietzel added two goals, while sophomore attacker Lindsay Beardmore dished off two assists for the Mids, who also won the draw control (16-11) and ground ball (22-16) battles yet somehow wound up with less possession time.
“We got off good shots, but for some reason they just weren’t sticking today,” Eby said. “We had the looks. We just had an off day [shooting].”
Senior attacker Reagan Roelofs made a sharp cut to open space, took a perfect inside feed from Beardmore and fired a hard overhand shot into the top corner to give Navy a 1-0 lead with just 27 seconds elapsed. Navy’s leading scorer would not be heard from again.
Army had a defender shut off Roelofs and effectively took her out of the game as she did not produce another point the rest of the way.
“They did a great job face-guarding Reagan, which just plays into the idea that Army was well-prepared,” Timchal said.
Tumolo had high praise for her defense, which did a superb job of marking all the Navy offensive players. The Black Knights caused some turnovers on that end and were gritty in going after ground balls. Defender Ceara Sweeney and Hatton combined for four caused turnovers and six ground balls.
“We kept coming up with the ball on the defensive end. That was the best our defense has played all season. It was incredible and I’m so proud of them,” Tumolo said.
Bartholomay came into the contest with a pedestrian .438 save percentage and a relatively high 12.36 goals-against average. The Alexandria, Virginia, resident and Saint Stephens School graduate was sharp the whole way on Saturday.
“That is the best game Lacey’s had in her career. We asked her to step up and make stops and she did just that,” Tumolo said. “Lacey played unbelievable, and if she didn’t I don’t think the score would be the same.
“It’s also a testament to our defense putting pressure on shots and sticks on sticks.”
Junior attacker Kathleen Sullivan, a South River graduate and Annapolis resident, scored two goals for Army (10-5, 5-2), which now has an opportunity to snatch the second seed and a first-round bye away from Navy.
If Navy loses to first-place Loyola Maryland (15-1, 8-0) on Thursday night and Army beats Lafayette on Friday night, the archrivals would swap places. In that scenario, the Midshipmen would host a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal on May 1.
“Our Navy women’s lacrosse team is very sad, but also resilient. We know one game does not define who we are for this season,” Timchal said. “We have to bounce back and be ready next week to play Loyola.”
Army (11-5, 6-2) 2-4-3-5 = 14
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Navy (13-3, 7-1) 2-3-2-2 = 9
Goals: A – Gorajek 4, Riedell 3, Sullivan 2, Armstrong 2, Raymond, Franzoni; N – Eby 4, Dietzel 2, Roelofs, Leone, Bell.
Assists: A – Raymond 2; N – Beadmore 2.
Shots: A – 25; N – 42.
Saves: A – Bartholomay 17; N – Torres 10.
Draws: A – 11; N – 16.
Turnovers: A – 16; N – 13.
Source: Capital Gazette