Feb. 7, 2014
Army vs. UMass Game Notes
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army and UMass lift the lid on a new season against one another for the fourth year in a row. The Black Knights host the Minutemen on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 11 a.m., in a game moved up a day due to impending weather concerns. It was originally scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 9, at noon. Due to the date adjustment, the game will now be free of charge. Army embarks on its 97th season of men's lacrosse and will be the first game of a quadruple-header at West Point Saturday. The basketball teams are set for a doubleheader against Navy that afternoon at Christl Arena, while hockey rounds out the day with a home tilt with AIC at 7 p.m.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE ACTION
Radio: 1390 WEOK-AM, 1340 WALL-AM throughout the Hudson Valley. 92.5 WBLR-FM in Watertown, N.Y. (Fort Drum).
Web: Knight Vision will carry a video webcast of the game on www.goARMYsports.com.
Live Stats: Visit the lacrosse schedule page of www.goARMYsports.com to access GameTracker.
Twitter: Follow @Army_Lacrosse for in-game scoring updates.
BLACK KNIGHTS IN SEASON OPENERS
Army is 72-24 in season openers during its first 96 seasons. After winning four season openers in a row (2007-2010), the Black Knights have dropped their last three - all to UMass (2011, 2012, 2013).
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL
Saturday afternoon's season opener will be the earliest Army has ever began in its 97-year history. Army has only played in 15 February games. Loyola and Lehigh already played earlier in the week, while the Black Knights join Navy, Colgate, Boston University and Bucknell in beginning their seasons on Saturday.
Army attackman John Glesener earned high praise in late January's Patriot League preseason teleconference as the junior collected Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year plaudits heading into the 2014 season. Sophomore face-off specialist Alex Daly joined Glesener on the preseason all-league team, while the Black Knights landed fourth in the conference's preseason poll.
Patriot League newcomer Loyola entered its first season in the conference as the favorite after the Greyhounds were picked for the top spot in the poll. Loyola garnered 123 points and 13 first-place votes to finish ahead of the participants in last year's Patriot League title game, Bucknell and Lehigh. The runner-up Bison had three first-place votes and 109 points to edge the two-time defending champion Mountain Hawks with two first-place votes and 108 points. The rest of the poll order featured Army (86), Colgate (73), Navy (56), Holy Cross (42), Lafayette (35) and Boston University (16).
Glesener was not the only player to win an individual award, as Loyola senior defenseman Joe Fletcher took home the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award.
Under the direction of veteran head coach Greg Cannella (Massachusetts '88), UMass is coming off a 7-8 season in 2013 and faces off against Army for the fourth year in a row. The Minutemen are 3-0 against the Black Knights since renewing the series in 2011. UMass landed in the nation's top 10 in face-off win percentage (eighth; .576) and man-down defense (ninth; .739) last season. The Minutemen also ranked 12th in turnovers, averaging 13.6 per game.
All-American Will Manny and leading scorer Kyle Smith graduated as UMass' top two-leading scorers a year ago. Junior attackman Grant Whiteway started all 15 games and finished third in scoring last year with 32 points (26G, 6A). Senior Connor Mooney also returns on attack and is coming off a 29-point season.
Defensively, senior James Fahey is the most veteran member of the close defense. He is likely to be joined by sophomore Kyle Karaska and freshman Aaron Madaisky down low.
Senior Joe Calvello ranked one spot behind Army's Alex Daly, finishing 11th nationally with a .582 face-off win percentage. Sophomore goaltender Zach Oliveri landed 12th and 16th nationally in goals-against average and save percentage, respectively.
HOME SWEET MICHIE
Saturday marks the first of six home games for the Black Knights this season. Only 15 Football Bowl Subdivision stadiums, and just six east of the Mississippi River, are older than the fabled venue. Michie Stadium has played host to the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament seven times, most recently in 2001. Army is 73-37 in Michie Stadium over the last 15 years, including a 6-1 mark in 2010 when the Black Knights defeated rival Navy to win the Patriot League title. The Black Knights also went 6-1 at home in 2005 and defeated three nationally ranked opponents at Michie.
While Army faces the daunting task of replacing all-time leading goal scorer Garrett Thul '13 this season, they will do so by committee. The Black Knights welcome back five of their top eight point-producers from a year ago, a group that includes leading scorer and honorable mention All-American John Glesener (31G, 30A). Along with Glesener, Alex Newsome (18G, 6A), Will Mazzone (11G, 8A), Connor Cook (4G, 6A) and Tim Coll (4G, 4A) return to the fold. Overall, Army welcomes back 62 percent (148-of-237 points) of its offense from 2013.
Also of note, junior Jimbo D'Aprile returns at long stick midfield, fresh off a second team All-Patriot League campaign a year ago. Junior goaltender Sam Somers joined D'Aprile representing Army on the second team.
Army has a reputation for producing some of the country's top scholar-athletes year-in and year-out. In fact, the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year has come from West Point in five of the last six years. This year looks to be no exception as 27 players authored a 3.0 or higher grade-point average during the fall semester.
Junior attackman John Glesener enters the 2014 season just four points shy of becoming the 30th Black Knight to join the 100-point club. The Camillus, N.Y., native currently has 47G and 47A. Tim Pearson '02 holds the record with 238 career points. Glesener's 47 career assists currently rank tied for 18th on Army's career ledger.
THE "X" FACTOR
To say that sophomore face-off specialist Alex Daly authored a stellar rookie campaign would be an understatement. The New Market, Md., native dominated in the "x" as a freshmen and finished the year ranked 10th in the nation with a .586 (140-of-239) win percentage. Daly only got better as the year progressed and won 76 percent (62-of-82) of his face-offs over the final four games of the season. He also led the team with 75 ground balls and added five points (2G, 3A). Daly is a Patriot League Preseason All-League honoree and wears No. 88 in honor of his favorite athlete, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
DEFENSE DOES IT
Having given up double-digit goals just twice last season (L, 10-6 vs. Lehigh; L, 12-9 vs. Bucknell), Army finished the year with the nation's third-best scoring defense. The Black Knights surrendering 7.79 goals per game in 14 contests. The Black Knights land 15th nationally in caused turnovers (8.36 per game) and 10th in ground balls (33.07 per game).
IT'S A NUMBERS GAME
Avid Army fans will notice a few notable number changes this season. On the offensive end of the field, junior middie Alex Newsome now wears No. 4 rather than No. 45, while sophomore attackman Will Mazzone switched from No. 35 to No. 33. Also notable, sophomores Tim Coll (No. 1), Austin Schultz (No. 11) and Mike Perettine (No. 41) all switched things up a year into their collegiate careers.
Junior goalkeeper Sam Somers established himself as one of the top goalies in the league last season and finished the year leading the entire nation with a 7.18 goals-against average. The Wilton, Conn., native picked up Patriot League second team honors and played all but one game a year ago. Somers won the starting goalkeeper position following a stellar performance at nationally ranked Syracuse. He recorded a career-high 18 saves and held the vaunted Orange attack to six goals.
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Sophomores Will Mazzone (left) and Connor Cook (right) split time starting as Army's third attackmen last season. The duo measures 5-6 and 5-5, respectively, but show good things can come in small packages. Mazzone posted his first career hat trick en route to All-Patriot League Tournament honors totaled 19 points (11G, 8A) on the season. Cook started the first seven games of the season and finished with 10 points (4G, 6A).
OH CAPTAIN(S), MY CAPTAIN(S)
Seniors John Burk, Nick Isnardi and Tyler Kamide were selected to serve as team tri-captains for the 2014 season.
Army hits the road for a three-game swing beginning next Saturday at VMI. The Black Knights will make the roughly seven-hour bus ride to Lexington, Va., on Friday before facing off with the Keydets at noon the following afternoon. Fans can follow live statistics of the game via the lacrosse schedule page of goARMYsports.com. Periodic scoring updates will be posted to @Army_Lacrosse on Twitter.