(3) BUCKNELL v. (2) COLGATE
Colgate raced out to a 7-1 lead after the first quarter -- a period in which the Raiders shot seven of eight against Bucknell -- and held a 10-4 lead at the half to cruise to an 18-5 victory over the Bison in the first semifinal of the Patriot League Tournament. Matt Clarkson led all goal scorers with five tallies on five shots on goal and Ryan Walsh chipped in four markers on four shots on goal to help pace Colgate in the win. Clarkson and Walsh each finished with seven points against Bucknell.
The first half was an almost flawless effort from Colgate, slicing through Bucknell's defense at will while forcing the Bison to rotate through three goalkeepers in the initial 30 minutes of the game. (No Bucknell goalkeeper recorded a save in the first half.) The Raiders' offensive efficiency over the first two quarters netted Colgate two two-goal scoring pops and a five-goal rush in the first period that gave the Raiders all the cushion they would need to stick around Annapolis for a chance to play for a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Leveraging the team's scoring also benefited Colgate in the first half as four players -- Chase Wittich, Ryan Walsh, Matt Clarkson, and Peter Donato -- registered at least two goals before the intermission.
The second half was merely academic. Bucknell was able to muster a bucket midway through the third quarter but could not handle an eight-goal barrage from the Raiders over the final 30 minutes of action. The Bison's season likely ends with a 9-5 record while Colgate has improved to 9-4 on the year.
(5) ARMY v. (1) NAVY
Army has progressed to the Patriot League Tournament championship on the back of an 11-7 victory over archrival Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Alex Newsome led the Cadets with four points on a goal and three assists while teammate Connor Cook provided a goal and three assists. Kevin Wendel generated three points on two goals and helper to provide Navy with offensive combustion.
The first half was a West Point showcase with the Black Knights dominating play and earning an 8-1 lead at the intermission. Navy was only able to squeeze off eight shots over the game's first 30 minutes while Army used a tenacious defense and a fluid offense to fluster the Midshipmen. Army shot 57.14 percent in the two periods prior to the break and caused four turnovers to build a drastic seven-goal advantage. The performance that the Cadets exhibited was one that seemed to elude Army in its two losses leading into the Patriot League Tournament and only started to come to the fore in the fourth quarter against Loyola in the quarterfinal round of the conference's postseason event. Navy, contrastingly, appeared impotent in multiple aspects of play, developing its only goal of the half after a 23:05 drought to start the game and failing to orchestrate defensive stops as the team spun sideways on its home field.
The first 18:48 of the second half was a spectrum pole to the first half. Navy came out of the locker room with verve and fire, shutting out Army in the third quarter as the Midshipmen put four goals on the board to draw within 8-5. Patrick Keena and Wendel each accounted for two points in the quarter. Gabe Voumard drew the Mids within two of the Cadets with a bucket 37 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Army was able to extend its lead out to three on a Jimbo Moore man-up score to break a 22:46 scoring drought. That marker from Moore stanched the Black Knights' bleeding: T.J. Hanzsche netted a gutsy answer to pull Navy within 9-7 with 6:37 on the clock, but a Shea Mullins heater that came from the heart of the Midshipmen's defense and a rocket from Cook shortly thereafter built an insurmountable 11-7 lead for the Cadets, a profit that Army would not relinquish over the remaining 2:42 of regulation.
Navy will face Air Force next weekend and the Mids are assured of finishing above .500 for the first time since 2009. Army will look to lock up an invitation to The Big Barbeque on Sunday, potentially breaking the team's four-year absence from The Show.