February 18, 2012

Army Rolls: Hayes' Hot Start Puts VMI Away

from press release

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Senior attackman Conor Hayes scored a career-high five goals, while classmate Garrett Thul tallied four of his own as the Army lacrosse team used a hot start to dispatch visiting VMI, 14-8, on Saturday afternoon at Michie Stadium.

Hayes tallied his first career hat trick less than five minutes into the game, as Army (2-1) scored on the opening face-off for the second game in a row. Senior Derek Sipperly won the opening face-off and senior Brian LoRussoearned the assist on Hayes' goal just 11 seconds into the contest. The Black Knights held a 6-2 lead after the first quarter, 8-4 at halftime and hung on for their second victory of the season.

"Playing from in front is a lot easier than playing from behind," Hayes said. "A quick start like today helps. If he (Sipperly) gets that break, I know he's going to draw the point man. From there, it's just a catch and shoot."

Army out-shot the Keydets 45-23 and won the ground ball battle, 33-25. VMI senior Stephen Robarge, last season's national leader in face-off percentage, won 14 of 24 face-offs. Senior goalkeeper Kelly McMinn totaled 22 saves for the Keydets. Army senior keeper Zach Palmieri tallied eight saves.

"That was a huge play right out of the gate again," said seventh-year head coach Joe Alberici. "We knew we wanted to play with a lead today. If you're in a deficit, these games are tough to claw out of. Conor (Hayes) taking us to a 3-1 lead early is exactly how you want it drawn up. I'm very happy for him because he's put in the work.

"There were still a lot of things out there that we need to improve upon," he continued. "We need to sharpen our game in some areas before heading up to Syracuse next week."

Referees flagged each team with six penalties during the physical contest and both tallied a man-up goal.

After Hayes got Army on the board 11 seconds into the action, he scored twice more over the next four minutes as the Black Knights took an early 3-1 lead. Hayes' second goal of the day came unassisted as he came around the cage and beat McMinn with 13:48 on the clock. The Keydets got on the board at the 10:40 mark, but Hayes wasted no time converting Sipperly's next faceoff win into a goal just seven seconds later. Senior tri-captain Tim Henderson, who finished with a season-high seven ground balls, tallied his second assist of the year on Hayes' third goal.

Thul and junior midfielder Alex Van Krevel proceeded to find pay dirt just over a minute apart as the Black Knights netted five of the game's first six goals. Thul secured a pass from freshman midifielderJohn Glesener for his first goal of the game at the 9:16 mark. Van Krevel scored on the run with 8:04 to play.

The teams traded goals as the first quarter ended the second quarter ensued. Army senior John Adairscored his second goal of the season to open the second half (9:11), but the Keydets tallied the next two to pull within 7-4 with just under five minutes left before the half. VMI would get no closer the rest of the way.

Thul put a lazer past McMinn with 1:36 left in the first half as the Black Knights sat on an 8-4 halftime lead.

It was a case of déjà vu to open the second half, as Sipperly won the opening face-off, which led directly to a Hayes goal once again 11 seconds into the action. Army out-scored VMI 6-4 over the final 30 minutes of action, as the Keydets were never able to mount a significant rally. The Black Knights led by as many as seven goals three times (12-5, 13-6, 14-7) before the final buzzer sounded.

Thul (two), Hayes (two), Adair and junior midfielder Pat Brennan all scored in the second half.

Chris Kitchen's hat trick led VMI, which fell to 0-2 on the season.

Army will take the next seven days to prepare for its first road test of the season, as the Black Knights visit preseason No. 8/9 Syracuse on Sunday, Feb. 26. The game will be televised in the central New York region on Time Warner Cable and available in the Hudson Valley on SportsNet New York. Face-off is set for 2 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.

Game Notes: Army wore gray uniforms against its military brethren ... the Black Knights are 7-0 against military foes when wearing gray uniforms ... Garrett Thul recorded his 18th career hat trick, extended his goal-scoring streak to 27 games and moved into 12th place on Army's career goals scored list with 93 ... Derek Sipperly took all but one face-off and finished with five ground balls ... Army improved to 4-0 all-time against VMI.


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