April 23, 2011

Thul Posts Fourth Straight Hat Trick in Army's Second Straight Win

from press release

WORCESTER, Mass. - Sophomore attackman Garrett Thul posted his 15th career hat trick and senior midfielder Rob McCallion matched a season-high three points (2G, 1A) to lead No. 17/18 Army past Holy Cross on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon at Holy Cross Field. The victory improved Army to 4-2 in the Patriot League and was the team's final regular-season test before next weekend's conference tournament.

Thul's hat trick was his eighth of the season and fourth in a row, while he extended his goal-scoring streak to 22 games. Junior attackman Conor Hayes posted his first hat trick of the season, while junior midfielder Devin Lynch and senior midfielder Jay Laing also scored one goal apiece. Senior attackman Jeremy Boltus, who moved into sole possession of second place on Army's all-time assist list with 116, helped on two goals for the afternoon. Lynch added two assists for three points.

Wet conditions certainly played a factor in the back-and-forth affair. The teams combined for 38 turnovers, while Army held a 32-30 edge in the ground ball game. Thul and long stick midfielders Tim Henderson and Tom Dalton paced Army with four ground balls apiece.

Army (9-4, 4-2 Patriot League) out-shot the Crusaders by a 31-26 margin. Senior goalkeeper Tom Palesky picked up his ninth win of the year and made six saves in the process.

"I have to give a lot of credit to Holy Cross today," said sixth-year head coach Joe Alberici. "They played hard right until the end. It was a real battle for 60 minutes. I thought our guys did a good job finding a way. Different guys had to step up. Conor Hayes had his best game of the year and we needed it. We've executed better this season, but we're looking forward to the playing another week together in preparation for the Patriot League Tournament."

Holy Cross (2-12, 1-5) came out swinging and took a 3-1 lead midway through the first quarter. Thul accounted for Army's lone goal in the early going, as he scored unassisted with 8:42 on the clock. After a missed shot around the five-minute marker, Boltus fed Laing from behind the cage for the score to make it 3-2 in favor of Holy Cross. Each team would tack on one more goal before the first period ended. Lynch charged the right side of the net and fed Hayes for his first goal of the game at 1:52.  

Army scored four of the five goals in the second quarter, which proved to be the difference maker. The Black Knights led 7-5 at halftime.

"The second quarter was the difference," Alberici said. "The ground ball play, particularly on the offensive end, led to longer possessions. We picked up the physical play, which this type of game really called for."

Coming out of the break, McCallion tied the game for the first time, running a sharp angle and converting on a bouncing shot past Holy Cross goalkeeper Mike Fisher just 2:08 into the second frame. Thul's putback score, his second goal of the day, gave Army its first lead with 9:38 on the clock. Holy Cross wasted no time leveling the score on its next possession on a Myles Gillespie score (9:09).

Army scored twice more before the half, the first coming as Boltus took advantage of a Holy Cross turnover on a clear attempt and fed Hayes with 6:36 remaining. Lynch found McCallion less than three minutes later as Army took a 7-5 lead into the break.

Scoring was at a premium during a seesaw third frame, during which each team scored once. Army missed its first shot on a man-up chance, but Lynch converted on the restart at the 10:35 mark. McCallion earned his lone assist of the day, helping Army take an 8-5 lead. Holy Cross counter-punched less than a minute later and headed into the final 15 minutes trailing 8-6.

Two early goals allowed Army to distance itself from the Crusaders. Both Hayes and Thul beat Fisher in the cage within the first 3:20 as the Black Knights took a 10-6 lead. Holy Cross scored its final goal at 8:23 (10-7), but the Crusaders would get no closer.

John Hannan paced Holy Cross with three goals, while Andrew Morici added two goals. Fisher finished with six saves.

Army will play as the third seed in next weekend's Patriot League Tournament and await the loser of Bucknell at Colgate, which is being played Saturday night in Hamilton, N.Y. The winner of that pivotal contest will earn the top seed and host the 2011 Tournament. Army will play the second seed, while No. 4 Lehigh draws the top seed. The Black Knights were picked to defend their Patriot League title in the preseason poll. Army's two Patriot League losses this season have come to Bucknell (8-7) and Colgate (13-11) by a combined three goals.

Semifinals will be played on Friday, April 29. The championship game, which awards the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, is slated for Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. All three games will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

Game Notes: Sophomore Andrew Boyd made his first career start in the midfield ... Army improved to 21-0 against Holy Cross in the all-time series ... rain soaked the Black Knights' game day for the second week in a row ... Holy Cross celebrated its Senior Day ... Holy Cross played Army within three goals for the third-straight year ... both teams went man-up three times ... senior defenseman Matt Marasco carried the flag onto the field and played significant minutes for the second game in a row.


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