The Army was eight years behind the Navy in elevating women’s lacrosse to university status. It took less time than that for the Dark Knights to catch up with the Aspirants.
Sophomore hitter Julia Gorajek scored four goals and Army dominated possession throughout the 24th Navy’s 14-9 loss Saturday at Annapolis. Junior midfielder Jolie Riedell scored three goals for the Black Knights, who beat the Midshipmen for the first time in seven games.
Navy won the first five meetings by an average margin of 12 goals. However, the Black Knights made a dramatic improvement last season and lost just 13-12 to the Mids at West Point, setting 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 the Army-controlled game toured from start to finish. On the offensive side, the Black Knights executed their sets methodically and worked to get high percentage shots. On the defensive end, second-year goaltender Lacey Bartholomay frustrated the Mids on several occasions and finished with 17 saves.
“We were a lot in defense. They were controlling it and 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 out of the pipes. I’m not going to take anything away from their keeper, who played well, but maybe we were just tight and hesitant for the game because it was such a big game.
Remarkably, the Navy outperformed the Army, 42-25, the difference being the quality of those attempts. Army scored four goals from free position shots, including one into an empty net when Navy keeper Jo Torres had to come off after committing a foul.
“We have to play cleaner. We can’t get yellow cards and put them in position to get those free position shots that they were finishing,” Timchal said.
On the other side, the contenders started over-aiming after Bartholomay started the game hot and stole a few possible early goals.
“We were outplayed by almost 20 shots, but that didn’t matter. All that matters is who goes in the net,” said Army freshman coach Michelle Tumolo. “Their goalkeeper is amazing so we just had to make sure we were shooting quality shots.”
Senior midfielder Gil Eby scored four goals to lead the Navy (13-3, 7-1), which suffered its first Patriot League loss. Senior midfielder Kasey Dietzel added two goals, while second-year striker Lindsay Beardmore provided two assists for the Mids, who also won the draw (16-11) and ball control battles on the ground (22-16), but somehow ended up with less possession time.
“We had some good shots but for some reason they just didn’t hold up today,” Eby said. “We had the look. We just had a day off [shooting].”
Senior forward Reagan Roelofs made a clean cut into open space, took a perfect inside feed from Beardmore and fired a hard shot into the top corner to give Navy a 1-0 lead with just 27 seconds left. elapsed. We wouldn’t hear about the Navy’s leading scorer anymore.
Army had Roelofs stopped by a defender and effectively pulled her out of the game as she did not produce another run the rest of the way.
“They did a great job guarding Reagan, which reinforces the idea that the military was well prepared,” Timchal said.
Tumolo praised his defense, which did a superb job of scoring all of Marine’s offensive players. The Black Knights caused turnovers on that side and were brave in tackling ground balls. Defenseman Ceara Sweeney and Hatton combined for four turnovers and six ground balls.
“We kept coming with the ball defensively. It was the best our defense had played all season. It was amazing and I’m so proud of them,” Tumolo said.
Bartholomay entered the competition with a .438 pedestrian save percentage and a relatively high 12.36 goals-against average. The Alexandria, Va., resident and graduate of Saint Stephens School was sharp throughout the course on Saturday.
“It’s the best game for Lacey in her career. We asked her to step in and make some saves and that’s exactly what she did,” Tumolo said. “Lacey played amazing, and if she didn’t, I don’t think the score would be the same.
“It’s also a testament to our defense putting the pressure on shots and sticks on sticks.”
Junior forward Kathleen Sullivan, a South River graduate and Annapolis resident, scored twice for Army (10-5, 5-2), who now have the opportunity to snatch the second seed and a let -go from first round to Navy.
If Navy loses to first-place Loyola Maryland (15-1, 8-0) Thursday night and Army defeats Lafayette Friday night, the rivals will switch places. In this scenario, the contenders would host a quarter-final of the Patriot League tournament on May 1.
“Our Navy women’s lacrosse team is very sad, but also resilient. We know one game doesn’t define who we are for this season,” Timchal said. “We have to bounce back and be ready next week to play against Loyola.”
Army (11-5, 6-2) 2-4-3-5 = 14
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Marine (13-3, 7-1) 2-3-2-2 = 9
Objectives: One – Gorajek 4, Riedell 3, Sullivan 2, Armstrong 2, Raymond, Franzoni; NOT – Eby 4, Dietzel 2, Roelofs, Leone, Bell.
Assists: A – Raymond 2; NOT – Beadmore 2.
Shots: A – 25; NOT – 42.
Record: A – Bartholomay 17; NOT – Torres 10.
Draw: A – 11; NOT – 16.
Turnover: A – 16; NOT – 13.