With a 1-4 start to the season, not many people thought much of the 2010 Army Black Knights. After going 10-1 in the final 11 games of the season and knocking off the top ranked Syracuse Orange in the first round of the playoffs, the Black Knights were once again a household name in the sport of lacrosse.
As Army’s upset spread throughout lacrosse forums, so did the name Garrett Thul, a freshman from Flemington, N.J. The lefty attackman led all freshmen in goals scored and finished ninth in the nation with 41. The winner of the first ever Inside Lacrosse National Rookie of the Year award, Thul gave opposing defense’s a hard time week in and week out. Finishing the season with 50 points and capturing the Patriot League freshman of the year, one can only wonder the type of numbers he can put up with three years left in his collegiate career.
It’s hard to find many attackman like Thul. Standing 6’3", it’s hard to defend a player of his stature. Add the speed and strength behind his 220 pound frame, defending Thul became a challenge for every player that tried to take him on.
A preseason honorable mention All-American, Thul will join forces with a very impressive supporting cast on the Black Knights. Alongside senior midfielder Jeremy Boltus, Thul is one half of a duo that many coaches will have a tough time scouting against. Add in senior goalie Tom Palesky and second team preseason All-American Bill Henderson, its no wonder why the Black Knights head into the 2011 season ranked 13th in the country.
Thul joined College Crosse and answered some questions about being the underdog going into the first round matchup against Syracuse and what we can expect from the 2011 Black Knight team.
College Crosse: Talk about the Syracuse upset in the first round of the playoffs. What did that mean to you and the entire team/coaching staff?
Garrett Thul: That whole week everyone was real amped up. We were loving the fact that everyone was calling us the underdog; the whole year everyone had counted us out. But we believed, and the fact that we won just goes to show how well the whole team had overcome adversity all year long. To a certain extent I believe that the win against Syracuse put Army Lacrosse back on the forefront of Division I lacrosse. But for the team the win was just the exclamation point on what we had already done, and a stepping stone to the quarters.
CC: What will it take for you personally to match your numbers from last year and what will it take to top those numbers
GT: As much as I’d like to say that I’m shooting for a benchmark with regards to points I’m really not. I’d like to think of I’m working towards being a more dynamic, multi-dimensional player. I’m trying to improve my game and role in our offense, and in doing so the numbers will come. I think a lot of players get into the bad habit of judging their performance based on their previous stats at that point in a previous season. This year I’m going to do my thing, Bolt’s [Jeremy Boltus] going to do his, and everything will fall into place.
CC: What can we expect from the 2011 Army Black Knights?
GT: We’re hungry. We’re 45 warriors who are not dwelling on last season, and to be quite honest last year was not good enough. There was so much to improve upon from last season, and everyday at practice or lifts or running our men came out ready to get better, to not make the same mistakes as last year. Obviously we lost some good guys from last year, a lot of leadership, but it is great to see new guys, and old guys, stepping up into roles for the first time. We’re starting to click, and come January when we get Boltus, the Henderson brothers [Bill and Tim], and [Derek] Sipperly back on the turf we’re going to be an Army Team.
CC: What was your off-season training like?
GT: This off season was excellent. It has to be a record year for Army in the weight room; we had more guys benching and cleaning over 225, and squatting over 300 pounds than we probably ever have. While we were getting stronger, we were getting quicker and faster. Our strength and conditioning program is unparalleled in Division I lacrosse, and they proved why they are the best this off season. Every day they would throw something new at us and we all stepped up to the plate and took it head on. It was exciting to see everyone pushing each other and getting better every day.
CC: Toughest defenseman you will face in 2011?
GT: Bill Henderson. Sure there are a lot of good defensemen in DI, but I’m only opposing them for 60 plus minutes. I’ve got to play Billy every day. Kid’s good. Sure I’m bigger, stronger, and probably faster, but I can’t get by him like I can other guys. In all honesty the best defenseman from a different team that I’ll face is John Lade. He’s a Jersey product like me, so I’ve got to give him some love. He’s an animal, he plays hard all game long, but he’s a professional. On the field he’ll take your head off, but after the game you’re buddies. That’s how it should be, and that’s how he does it. I love his tenacity, he shows you how it should be done.