WEST POINT, N.Y. - Michael Rakoczy scored the game-winning goal off a restart following an Army foul just outside the 18-yard line and Navy held on to defeat Army, 1-0, in the annual Star Match Saturday evening in front of 2,457 spectators at Clinton Field.
Rakoczy took a feed from David Jackson and sent a low shot from the right-hand side of the box into the left-hand corner of the cage in the 60th minute to give the Midshipmen a 1-0 lead. Army sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Currens made a valiant diving attempt to make the save, but the ball just trickled past his fingertips and rolled into the back of the net.
The goal was scored immediately after an Army foul was whistled just outside the box. Rakoczy started the ensuing play when he touched the ball to Jackson, who then sent a through ball back to Rakoczy, who had gotten behind the Army defense. The sophomore midfielder corralled the feed and then sent a shot past Currens to give the Midshipmen (5-1-0, 1-0-0 Patriot League) the lead.
Army (0-7-0, 0-1-0 Patriot League) had a couple of golden opportunities to tally the equalizer, but shots by freshman midfielder Jakob Szabo and junior defender Carson McReynolds sailed high in the 67th and 68th minutes, respectively.
A corner kick by Szabo in the 83rd minute led to a shot by sophomore midfielder Josh Koeppe, but his effort went high as well.
Missed opportunities seemed to be the theme of the night for the Black Knights, who put just one of their 11 shots on goal. Navy, meanwhile, saw three of its 14 shots find the mark.
Army head coach Russell Payne, while disappointed in the result, was pleased with the way his team performed against a tough Navy squad.
"I'm disappointed, obviously, that we weren't able to maximize our chance tonight," said Payne. "We had a fantastic crowd and a fantastic atmosphere. We fell short tonight because we didn't maximize our chances. We had about four or five shots in the box that went over the goal. We're creating more chances than we ever have before. We just have to capitalize on those chances that we create. We have to force their keeper into more saves. Aside from that, I can't be disappointed in the boys tonight. They put their hearts out there; they put it all on the line. They showed the fans and they showed the school what we're made of. We will get better; we will prosper."
Navy outshot Army 14-11 in the contest, and the Midshipmen held a 5-4 edge in corner kicks. Aaron Dupere made one save in the Navy goal, while Currens stopped two shots for Army. It was a physical match that featured 13 fouls and two yellow cards on each side.
The play in the first went half back and forth with both teams generating scoring opportunities. The Black Knights controlled the majority of the action early in the half, while Navy picked up the pace later in the stanza.
One of Army's best first half scoring chances came late in the frame when junior forward Tanner Robertson ripped a shot from about 20 yards out that drifted just wide of the cage. Szabo accounted for the Black Knights' only shot on goal in the opening frame as he deflected a cross with a header that Dupere had to save.
Sam Miller registered Navy's lone shot on goal during the first half, but the Mids' best chance came in the 31st minute when Dave Arnold clanged a shot off the crossbar. Three minutes later, Eric Wooten unleashed a rocket of a shot that curved just wide of the Army goal.
Army continues its six-game homestand on Wednesday, Sept. 29, when the Black Knights entertain Rider in a non-conference match at Clinton Field. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ITT Knight Vision with Rick Johnston handling the play-by-play duties.
Notes: Army's all-time record versus Navy drops to 27-37-13 ... six of Army's seven losses this season have been one-goal setbacks.