WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army senior midfielder Devin Lynch broke a 6-6 tie with a goal at the 9:51 mark in the fourth quarter, as the Black Knights (6-6, 3-2 Patriot League) outscored Navy (5-6, 3-3 Patriot League) 3-0 in the final stanza en route to a 9-6 victory over the Midshipmen on Saturday afternoon at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.
The game featured four ties, but Navy never led in a game that saw Army win its fourth straight against the Midshipmen.
“This game was every bit as intense as I thought it would be,” said first-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “It was a hard fought battle, but in the end, they made the plays they needed to to get the win.
“We made some runs, but we could never get the lead. We fought and we hung in there, but the turnovers and faceoffs in the fourth quarter just played into the hands of Army.”
In a see-saw affair, Army junior attackman Garrett Thul punched in his first of a career-high tying five goals to put the Black Knights on the scoreboard first at 9:29 in the first quarter. Navy answered with 29.5 seconds left in the quarter when sophomore attackman Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) beat Army senior defender Larry LoRusso and cut to the middle where he sent a diving shot past keeper Zach Palmieri.
Army took a 2-1 advantage five minutes into the second quarter when Navy senior defenseman Ian Crumley (Oakton, Va.) threw an errant clearing pass right into the stick of Thul at the midline. Thul took off running, sticking his shot past Navy senior goaltender RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.).
The Mids won the ensuing faceoff with second-year pole Pat Kiernan (Ridgewood, N.J.) finding sophomore attackman Austin Heneveld (East Hampton, N.Y.) anchored on the right crease where he produced his third goal of the year and knotted the game at two apiece.
Less than a minute later, the Black Knights grabbed the lead for the third time when rookie midfielder John Glesener sent a 15-yard shot top shelf on Wickham. Army pushed its lead to two, 4-2, when defenseman Austin Miller (North Bethesda, Md.) was slow to slide and Andrew Boyd fired in his 12th goal of the season at the 6:08 mark.
Navy would trim the lead to one by the end of the half when sophomore midfielder Pat Durkin (Germantown, Md.) scaled the crease and sent his diving underhand shot past Palmieri.
Thul set the tone in the second half, scoring his third goal of the afternoon at the 12:28 mark off an assist from Glesener.
The Mids, however, rallied to score three of the next four goals, including goals just a minute apart. Junior Bryce Dabbs (Damascus, Md.) nailed a wide open shot from 10 yards out at the 11:23 mark, followed by a perfectly executed play between rookie Gabe Voumard (Cape May, N.J.) and sophomore middie Erik Hoffstadt (Dover, Del.). Hoffstadt set up shop 15 yards up the middle from the goal, sending his pass to Voumard who was positioned on the crease and pumped in his fifth goal of the year.
Thul once again provided the go-ahead goal (6-5) for the Black Knights when Glesener fed him from 12 yards out on the left side with 5:52 to go.
Kiernan, one of the nation’s top-scoring defensive point producers, fought to win the ensuing faceoff and charged towards the cage where he scored his seventh goal of the year and tied the game for the fourth time at 6-6.
On the year, Kiernan has produced 10 points with seven goals and three assists. The 10 points and the seven goals are the most by any defenseman in program history. Meanwhile, he has recorded 11-career points on eight goals and three assists which ranks eighth among the nation’s active defensemen.
Lynch scored what would be the game-winner at 9:51 in the fourth, threading his shot past Kiernan and Wickham from seven yards out on the left wing. It’s the second-straight week that Lynch would be responsible for a game-winner, as he scored the game-clincher in Army’s double-overtime win over Bucknell in Lewisburg last Saturday. Thul not only scored the insurance goal at 5:59, he pumped it in on a crowd-pleasing over-the-shoulder shot. Lynch salted the game away with a goal with 2:29 remaining in the contest.
The fourth quarter spelled trouble for the Mids, as Army owned the advantage in nearly every statistical category. The Black Knights outshot Navy, 13-5, owned a 3-1 faceoff edge and the Mids turned the ball over four times to Army’s once.
Navy’s six goals were scored by six different players and all were first-time scorers against Army. Both Jones and Kiernan finished with two points with one goal and one assist. Defensively, Wickham produced 12 saves and became just the sixth player in program history to reach the 450-career save milestone. He has turned aside 461 over his four-year career.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team and its effort,” added Sowell. “We’ve been through a lot this year and at times it hasn’t been easy, but I feel like brighter days are ahead for the program.”
The Midshipmen will play their season finale next Saturday when they play host to third-ranked Johns Hopkins at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium beginning at 12:00 pm. The contest will be televised live by CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan (play by play) and Evan Washburn (analyst) calling the action.