March 22, 2011

Boltus Powers Army Past Lehigh in PL Opener

from press release

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Behind seven points courtesy of senior attackman Jeremy Boltus and a 14-of-24 effort from junior Derek Sipperly and the faceoff unit, No. 8/9 Army used a three-goal barrage during a 20-second span at the end of the third quarter to propel the Black Knights to a 12-9 win over visiting Lehigh on Tuesday night at Michie Stadium.

Lehigh (4-4, 1-1) took a 2-0 lead in the opening five minutes of the contest, but Army (6-2, 1-0) quickly rebounded with three-straight scores to take its first lead of the night (3-2), a margin that stood at the end of the first period. Lehigh edged Army 4-3 in the second frame as the teams entered halftime tied at 6-all.

The Mountain Hawks netted the first goal of the third, taking their last lead of the contest (7-6) with 6:13 on the clock. From there, six different players contributed to three Army goals between the 1:14 and 0:54 marks, helping Army gain a momentum it would not relinquish. Both teams scored twice in the fourth quarter, as Army hung on for its fifth straight win and remained undefeated at Michie Stadium (3-0) this season.

"Tonight's test was a real gut-check for our guys," said head coach Joe Alberici. "I felt like we came out playing quite well, really dominating possessions, but Lehigh still got off to a quick start. I thought the stretch at the end of the third quarter was what really propelled us to victory tonight. We got a little more vocal at that point.

"We had our best two days of preparation that we have all season leading up to this game. I was extremely impressed with our guys digesting the game plan and executing in a short period."

Going up against the second-ranked faceoff unit in the nation, Army won 15-of-25 battles. Sipperly and senior midfielder Brandon Butler led Army with six ground balls apiece, while junior long stick midfielder Tim Henderson added five to the effort. Henderson tallied a season-high three points on a goal and two assists, while Sipperly and Butler added two and one assist, respectively.

"That was a big storyline in tonight's game," Alberici said. "We scored four goals off of faceoffs. Not only did we get possession, but we created offense. Derek Sipperly, Tim Henderson and Brandon Butler combined for 17 ground balls themselves, so just it was a heck of a day by that unit."

"We've been getting more confident as a unit," Sipperly added. "Coach (Mike) Murphy, myself, Tim (Henderson), Brandon (Butler), and Matt Hurley recently have put in a lot of time working. Winning 50-50 balls is huge and we've been doing that."

Henderson's three-point performance marked a career-high for the Tully, N.Y., native. He has five points on the season (3G, 2A) and three goals on seven shots.

"It's always been a part of my game, but like a big hit, scoring a goal with a long pole always seems to give the team a boost," Henderson said. "There's no better feeling than pumping your team up and getting them ready for the next play."

Boltus paced Army's offense once again, delivering his second hat trick of the season and tallying four assists for the fourth-straight game. Sophomore attackman Garrett Thul added his 11th career hat trick and fourth of the season, while also chipping in with three ground balls.

"We knew Lehigh was a great team coming in with a great faceoff percentage and a lot of offensive threats," Boltus said. "It was great to see the defense bog down on them. They got on a couple runs, but our defense shut the door, and we were able to pull it out."

After Lehigh drew first blood with a pair of goals in a six-second span. Thul's turnaround shot from 10-yards out got Army on the board at the 8:43 mark. Nearly six minutes passed before either team scored again. Boltus' diagonal pass to sophomore Andrew Boyd resulted in the attackman's fourth goal of the season at 2:04. With a mere four seconds remaining before the buzzer, Boltus hit junior midfielder Devin Lynch for his 10th goal of the season and gave the Black Knights their first lead.

Army scored three of the first four goals of the second quarter, doubling up the Mountain Hawks (6-3) under four minutes into the action. Lehigh netted the first of two man-up goals 45 seconds in, courtesy of Cameron Lao-Gosney, but Sipperly proceeded to win the faceoff and go right to Henderson for the score six seconds later. Thul and Boltus scored in the span of seven seconds with Boltus' coming directly thanks to Sipperly's win in the "x" at the 12:27 mark.

Lehigh scored the next three goals unanswered to level the score at halftime (6-6). Both teams hit a scoring drought to start the third quarter as neither found the back of the net over the opening eight-plus minutes of action. Lehigh's Lao-Gosney ended the silence with his second goal of the game at the 6:13 mark. The Mountain Hawks won the ensuing faceoff, but Henderson was there to cause a Lehigh turnover and fed Boltus for his second goal of the night to make it 7-7 with 5:58 on the clock.

Army's three-goal blitz began as the Black Knights' top two scoring threats, Boltus and Thul, connected for the first time of the night with 1:14 remaining. As Sipperly dominated the "x" and allowed Army to gain possession, junior attackman Conor Hayes (1:03) and junior midfielder Matt Hurley (0:54) both put balls past Lehigh goalkeeper Dan Carr. Army led 10-7 at the end of 45 minutes.

Boltus completed his hat trick and recorded Army's lone man-up goal of the night to start the fourth quarter, reeling in a pass from senior midfielder Rob McCallion with 7:05 to play. Lehigh netted the next two goals before McCallion added an insurance goal with Carr out of the net at the 2:02 mark. Boltus collected his fourth assist of the day on McCallion's score.

Army out-shot Lehigh by a 31-23 margin. The Black Knights totaled 32 ground balls, while Lehigh tallied 28. David DiMaria paced the Mountain Haws with three points on two goals and an assist. Carr made 11 saves.

"This team has been through some tough games," Alberici added. "I think the level of our non-conference opponents and some of the close games we've played really helped us keep our poise tonight."

Army continues Patriot League play in when it hosts Lafayette on Saturday, March 26, at Michie Stadium. Faceoff is set for noon. Lafayette (2-5) lost its fourth game in a row at Drexel on Tuesday night.

Army and Lafayette were both nationally ranked when they met last spring. Boltus carried the Black Knights with a career-high eight points on three goals and five assists to lead the No. 20 Black Knights to a 15-14 victory at No. 19 Lafayette on April 21 in Easton, Pa.

Saturday's game will be streamed live via ITT Knight Vision. Please visit www.goARMYsports.com for details. Fans in the Hudson Valley can also tune-in on True Oldies (1340-AM, 1390-AM). Army's Rick Johnston will have the call.

Game Notes: Tuesday marked Army's lone night game of 2011 and final mid-week contest ... eight different players scored goals ... senior goalkeeper Tom Palesky improved to 6-2 on the season and made six saves ... Tim Henderson led all players with three caused turnovers ... head coach Joe Alberici recorded his 46th win at Army ... Army improved to 20-3 all-time against Lehigh ... the Black Knights have won four of the last five meetings ... Army has now won eight-straight games at Michie Stadium ... the Black Knights have scored double-digit goals in all five games during their current win streak.


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