Nov. 2, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army women's soccer team has two pivotal Patriot League Tournament matches this weekend in Hamilton, N.Y., in its bid to win the title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Army head coach Stefanie Golan emphasized at the start of the season that the most important goal was to be among the top four teams to earn berths to the tournament, which the Black Knights accomplished two weeks ago.
The next step takes place Friday night when No. 4 seed Army takes on host and top seed Colgate at Van Doren Field at 5 p.m., in the first seminal match of the tournament. It is the second straight year that the Black Knights and Raiders are meeting in the opening game and fifth time overall. This year's game is a rematch of last year's semifinal game at West Point where the top-seeded Black Knights took a 1-0 overtime decision over the Raiders.
A win Friday puts Army into the championship game for the second straight year, third time in the last four years, and 10th overall. Last year, the top-seeded Black Knights fell to No. 3 Lehigh, 1-0, at West Point. Army has won the tournament title twice, the last time in 2008 when it upset No. 1 seed and host Navy in Annapolis, Md. Army's five-member senior class were freshman that year when the Black Knights earned their first-ever berth to the NCAA Tournament, and the goal is for a return bid. Army fell 2-0 to heavily favored and host Virginia at the Regionals that year.
The Black Knights had the proverbial target on their backs all season after being picked the preseason favorite to win the title this year. Army qualified for a tournament berth for the second straight year and 17th overall following its 3-0 win over league rival American on Oct. 23. The win was just its second in the series and first since 2002, and it came on the heels of a 3-2 heartbreaker to Navy, seeded third in the tournament.
Only nine goals have creased Army's net this season as the Black Knights have compiled 13 shutouts (tying the second-highest mark in school history) and just three shy of last year's recording-setting 16. Army is the toughest team in the league to score upon as well as ranking among the nation's leaders. In the latest NCAA statistics, the Black Knights stand fourth in shutout percentage (0.722), fifth in save percentage (0.901) and 10th in goals-against average (0.471). Army has allowed just 15 goals over 39 games the past two years.
The Black Knights (10-3-5, 3-1-3 PL) head into the tournament showing a 5-1-3 mark in their last nine games, including seven shutouts, when they take on Colgate (11-5-2, 4-1-2 PL) in the opening round in a match that pits the league's top defensive team, the Black Knights, taking on the high-scoring Raiders.
Army and Colgate, picked first and second, respectively, in the Patriot League's preseason women's soccer poll, battled to a 1-1 double overtime draw at West Point on Oct. 3. Black Knight senior forward and all-league selection Errin Helbling opened the scoring when she took a feed from sophomore all-leaguer Joey Molacek and raced down the left sideline, getting in behind the Colgate defense and tallied with a 15-yard shot at the 33:07 mark.
Army's lead stood for almost 10 minutes before Colgate's Maddie Malone, a 2011 all-league pick, tied the game 1-1when she beat Monica Lee on a penalty kick at the 42:53 mark. Neither team was able to break the deadlock in the second half or the two 10-minute sudden death overtime periods.
It will be interesting when the teams meet for the second time this season as Army has the league's Defensive Player of the Year in Molly McGuigan and all-league goalkeeper Monica Lee. McGuigan, named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch, is the league's first back-to-back defensive player since Navy's Nicole Aunapu in 1997-98 and third overall. Lee leads the league with an Army single-season record 13 shutouts, which also tied the league's mark, and has ranked throughout the year in the NCAA statistics. She is listed eighth in save percentage (0.899) and 10th in GAA (0.47) in the latest release. Lee has earned league Goalkeeper of the Week honors three times, including back-to-back selections Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.
Defensively, Army is first in GAA (0.47), shutouts (13) and goals allowed (nine). Offensively, the Black Knights rank third in points (69) and goals (24), the latter its highest mark since tallying 35 in 2005. Sophomore first-team all-leaguer Kim An ranks among Army's and the league's leaders. She closed out the regular season leading the Black Knights for the second straight year in scoring with nine goals and one assist for 19 points. The Army forward ranks first in the league in goals and game winners (four), and lists second in points and shots (54). An's 18 career goals are just one shy of breaking into Army's top-10 all-time, while her eight game winners list tied for seventh.
Julia Stallard, a second-team selection as a midfielder after earning first-team honors as a defender last year, tops the Black Knights in assists (three) to rank among the league's top 10. Helbing is tied for second on the team with Molacek in scoring as both recorded three goals with two helpers for eight points. Helbling trails leader An in shots (48), which lists fourth in the league, with 24 on goal. In league matches, Helbling tied for seventh in goals (two), was second in shots (26) and seventh in points (five). In conference matches, Molacek list tied for eighth in scoring with four points (one goal, two assists) and shares fourth place in assists (two).
Colgate (11-5-2, 4-1-2 PL) will be looking to Offensive Player of the Year Jillian Kinter and Rookie of the Year Jenna Raepple to set the pace. Kinter leads the league with 23 points and Raepple is third with 17 points. They have combined for 15 goals and 10 assists. The Raiders lead the league in points (69), goals (34) and assists (34). Defensively, the Raiders are sixth with a 1.18 GAA and have yielded 22 goals to rank sixth in the league.
Against the rest of the field, Army suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 road loss to Navy, while battling Lafayette to a 0-0 double overtime draw on Senior Day this past Sunday.
ARMY AT THE PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT:
*Army has won two Patriot League Tournament titles - 1993 and 2008.
*The Black Knights are making their 17th appearance and second straight
*Army did not qualify in 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009.
*Army is 9-6-1 in opening-round matches and 2-7 in the championship game.
*Army and Colgate are meeting for the fifth time in the opening round ... the Raiders advanced three times after winning in 1995 and 2002, while besting Army on penalty kicks, 3-1, following a 1-1 OT tie in 2004.
*Army's two first-round wins over the Raiders were in 2005 and 2010.
*Fifth time Army is seeded fourth ... previous four times were 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2007.
ARMY VS. THE FIELD IN 2011
*Army is 0-1-2 ... tied Colgate 1-1 (2OT) and Lafayette 0-0 (2OT) and lost to Navy (3-2).
*In the all-time series, Army trails Colgate (22-9-5) and Navy (11-9-2) and leads Lafayette (18-2-2).
*Army scored 24 goals in the regular season (most since 2005) and allowed just nine goals.
*In seven league games, Army has scored nine goals (four higher than last year) along with a 0.52 GAA and five shutouts. *Sophomore Kim An leads the league in goals (nine) and game winners (four) and is second in points (19).
*Senior goalkeeper Monica Lee is first in the league in shutouts (13), GAA (0.47) and save percentage (.899) ... she is ranked No. 8 by the NCAA in save percentage and No. 10 in GAA.
*Army has outscored its opponents 9-4 in the first half and 15-5 in the second half, but has not scored in overtime and neither has its opponents.
*Army has had five overtime games.
*Army's 13 shutouts are three shy of the school mark 16 set last year when it shattered the former record (13) set in 1993.
*Army had a league-high six players earn Patriot League honors
Two first team (Kim An (F), Molly McGuigan (D) - second straight year for both
Four second team (Julia Stallard (M), Joey Molacek (M), Errin Helbling (F), Monica Lee (GK) ... Stallard was a first-team pick as a defender in 2010.
*Army had two players named to the Patriot League All-Academic Team
Julia Stallard - second straight year
*Freshman Madison Oliver, the league's rookie of the week in the latest release, has started the last 11 games as a defender, and has draw duty in 16 games along with classmate Lara Wilson ... freshman Jessica Koulabouth has played in 13 matches.
*Army is ranked fourth in shutout percentage (.722), fifth in save percentage (.901) and 10th in GAA (.0.471) in the latest NCAA statistical release.
*The Raiders (11-5-2, 4-1-2 PL) were picked second behind Army in the preseason poll.
*Colgate suffered a 1-0 loss to American in its regular-season game that almost cost them hosting and top seed of the tournament as it opened the door for Lafayette. The Leopards would have hosted had they beaten Army Sunday, and a Black Knight win would have clinched the No. 2 seed and a share of the regular-season title.
*Colgate has captured 11 Patriot League Tournament titles, claiming nine of the first 10 during the '90s (Army won the other in 1993) and two (2004 and 2009) in the 21st century ... during the 1990s, Army and Colgate met six of the first seven years in the championship game.
*Colgate is 1-0-2 vs. the field - defeated Lafayette, 2-0; tied Army (1-1 OT) and Navy (1-1 OT).
*The Midshipmen (12-5-3, 4-2-1 PL) were picked fourth preseason.
*The Mids are 1-1-1 vs. the field - defeated Army 3-2; lost to Lafayette 1-0; tied Colgate (1-1 OT).
*Navy ranks second in the league in points (89) and goals (32) and third in GAA (0.80).
*The Leopards (9-5-2, 4-2-1 PL) are 1-1-1 were picked seventh preseason.
*Lafayette is making its first post-season appearance since 2001.
*The Leopards picked up two major awards
Junior Lauren Smedley was named Goalkeeper of the Year
Mick Statham was the unanimous choice for Coach of the Year
*Lafayette jumped out to a 4-0 mark before going 0-2-1 bowing to Colgate and Bucknell.
*The Leopards had the chance to reclaim the top spot and regular-season title following Colgate's 1-0 loss to American ... they needed to beat Army in the last match, but battled to a scoreless draw instead.
*Lafayette is tied for fifth place in points (40) in the league, is sixth in goals (14) and second in GAA (0.66)
*The Leopards are 1-1-1 vs. the field - defeated Navy 1-0, lost to Colgate, 2-0, tied Army 0-0 (OT).
The Patriot League Championship will be on the line in field hockey and women's soccer this weekend, and fans can watch all the action live through Patriot League All-Access. The weekend championship presentations for both tournaments are scheduled to include expanded coverage including multi-camera availability and postgame interviews with head coaches.
The All-Access coverage is available for a monthly fee of $7.95. Viewers who purchase the subscription before the weekend will also be able to watch the men's soccer tournament Nov. 11 and 13 along with the volleyball championship Nov. 19-20 later this month.