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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #9 Army West Point Black Knights

Army came away with the Patriot League Championship, thanks in part to the emergence of one of the best freshmen in the country.

Dustin Satloff

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review with the teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament!

#9 Army West Point Black Knights

Conference: Patriot League
2019 Record: 13-5 (5-3 in Patriot League)
Postseason: Defeated Holy Cross, Loyola, and Lehigh for Patriot League Championship, lost to Penn in NCAA First Round
Head coach: Joe Alberici (14th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Miles Silva (39)
Assists: Brendan Nichtern (50)
Points: Brendan Nichtern (80)
Faceoffs: Ethan Barangan (77-of-193; 39.9%)
Ground balls: Johnny Surdick (64)
Caused turnovers: Johnny Surdick (36)
Goals against average: AJ Barretto (8.58)
Save percentage: AJ Barretto (57.6%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Johnny Surdick (36 CTs, 64 GBs, 1 A), G AJ Barretto (8.58 GAA, 57.6% SV %, 46 GBs, 6 CTs), A Nate Jones (36 Gs, 14 As, 24 GBs, 3 CTs), D Griffin Schultz (10 CTs, 18 GBs, 1 A), SSDM Jordan Cole (9 CTs, 8 GBs), FOGO Evan Condon (30.1% FOs, 26 GBs, 4 CTs, 1 A)
Senior scoring departing: 67 of 325 points (20.6%)
Senior starts lost: 73 of 180 (40.6%)

Season Summary

After missing the Patriot League Tournament with a 2-6 conference mark, Army West Point once again began the season strong and eventually finished with a record-setting season.

The Black Knights began the season on the road against UMass and Rutgers, both ranked teams. For the most part, Army was either tied or had the lead in each of those two games. In the season-opener against the Minutemen, UMass tied the game with one second left in regulation before Brendan Nichtern, a freshman reserve attack, scored his fourth goal of the game and seventh point of the afternoon to preserve the win. His performance was no fluke either, as he scored another hat-trick in the team’s one-goal victory over the Scarlet Knights.

Quickly becoming the team’s top offensive option, Nichtern became a starter at attack and eventually would play a large role in Army’s scoring for the remainder of the season. Following a win over Marist, the Black Knights suffered their first setback against Syracuse inside the Carrier Dome despite an 18-save performance from AJ Barretto. Patriot League play began as Army split their first two games with a win against Lafayette and a loss to Lehigh.

Army would win their next four games, beginning with a big win over Binghamton. The Black Knights needed a fourth quarter comeback to edge Holy Cross before for their second win before beating Colgate the following week. Despite holding a 13-9 lead early in the fourth against Bucknell, Army saw the Bison come back to tie the game. Nichtern played the hero with two goals in the final 40 seconds to help the Black Knights get another conference victory.

April was a little rough for Army, which consisted of two losses against Boston University and Loyola. Against the Terriers, the Black Knights gave up a pair of six-point performances to Chris Gray and Jake Cates as Barretto also had a poor day in goal with only seven saves. Army gave up a six-goal run and a four-goal run against the Terriers in the second half as well. The following week was the 100th edition of the Army-Navy game for men’s lacrosse in Annapolis. Army led for the majority of the game before the Midshipmen came back in the second half to force overtime. Matt Manown was able to find the back of the net in overtime to give the Black Knights the win in the epic rivalry showdown. Yet Army was unable to solve Loyola the next week as the Greyhounds scored nine goals in the second half for a 13-9 win.

After beating NJIT to end the regular season, Army crushed Holy Cross in the Patriot League Quarterfinals. If the team wanted to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, they had to take on the conference’s top two teams in Loyola and Lehigh. Against the Greyhounds in the semifinals, Army’s defense held Loyola to only five goals. Johnny Surdick gave up only one assist to Pat Spencer. On offense, Sean O’Brien scored three goals while Nichtern added three points in a two-goal upset of the Greyhounds. And against Lehigh in the conference title game, the Black Knights rallied from two goals down in the final quarter with six straight goals for the Patriot League Championship. Nichtern scored three of those goals and assisted on another. But the team couldn’t pull off another upset in the NCAA Tournament as Penn eliminated them in the first round.

Nichern set the single-season record for assists with 50 in just his rookie season. He should be one of the best Patriot League players for the next three seasons. Nate Jones was Army’s second player along with Nichtern to finish with 50 points on the year. Miles Silva was the team’s obvious finisher with all 39 points coming from goals. O’Brien started seven games and finished with 21 goals and 12 assists, and Tommy Marino was the team’s man-up specialist. Matt Manown was the team’s top midfielder and was accompanied by Nicholas Garofano and Connor DeWitt for most of the season. Alex Alecqua, Jeremy Angle, and Liam Davenport were key depth midfielders as well.

Thanks to his 36 caused turnovers and 64 ground balls, Johnny Surdick won the William C. Schmeisser Award as the nation’s best defenseman. Griffin Schultz and Tom Rigney accompanied him for the entire season at close defense. Kyle Beyer and Marcus Hudgins were the team’s top two long stick defenders, while Anthony George, James Pryor, Jordan Cole, and Matthew Horace were the team’s short stick defensive midfielders. AJ Barretto was one of the best goalkeepers in the entire country, with his 8.58 goals against average finishing second in the NCAA. But Army had extreme faceoff woes as Ethan Barangan and Evan Condon finished below 40% on the season.

Looking Ahead

Army’s bread and butter has usually been defense, which will face big losses with Surdick, Barretto, and Schultz graduating. Rigney is the only starting close defender returning. Bennett Taylor played on Army’s man-down unit in 2019 and could be an option as a starter. So could moving down either Hudgins or Beyer from LSM. With Barretto and backup Matt Koziol gone, Greg Coleman and Wyatt Schulper are the team’s only returning netminders. Coleman played in one game last season.

The offense should remain the same for the most part as Jones is the only big departure on that side of the ball. Look for O’Brien to perhaps have a full-time starter role there. Don’t be surprised if Army lifts the Patriot League’s conference championship trophy yet again in 2020.

Poll

How many wins will Army West Point get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0-6
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    7-8
    (7 votes)
  • 50%
    9-10
    (30 votes)
  • 35%
    11+
    (21 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now