Powerful Offensive Effort Leads Army to 18-11 Upset Over No. 4 Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After trailing 6-2 in the first period, the Army West Point men's lacrosse team stormed back to victory against the No. 4 ranked Syracuse Orange on Sunday afternoon, 18-11.
The Black Knights 18 goals were the first time that Army has put up that many points against the Orange since the 1968 season and is the first time they've held a top five opponent to under 11 points since their overtime win against No. 4 Notre Dame in 2017.
Bobby Abshire and Brendan Nichtern were the driving force for the Black Knight offense, each netting four goals apiece while accounting for five combined assists. In addition to the two powerhouse attackers, Army also had three other members of their offense post hat-tricks on the day including Gunner Philipp, Aidan Byrnes and Nickolas Edinger.
Wyatt Schupler was lights out for Army in the net, recording 12 saves on 23 shots faced while also grabbing three ground balls. The junior was key in halting the Orange offense, holding them scoreless for 12 total minutes between the end of the first and second periods.
Much of what allowed Army to produce offensively was a direct result of their ability to execute on second chance opportunities off Syracuse's turnovers. The Black Knights were 6-of-6 on the clear in the second and 13-of-14 through two periods, giving them the ability to take an 8-7 advantage after being down four, while recording two separate 3-0 runs.
While the final 30 minutes could have been an opportunity for Syracuse to close the gap, the Black Knights kept up their drive on offense, outscoring the Orange 10-3 in the final two periods.
How It Happened
• After a quick short stick goal by Syracuse, Byrnes answered back off an assist from Liam Davenport to tie up the game.
• From the eighth to the second minute, the Orange commanded the scoreboard, completing a 5-0 run.
• Abshire found Nichtern on the doorstep in a man-up opportunity with 56 seconds left to play in the first, closing the gap to four.
• Gunner Philipp changed the pace for Army in the second period, scoring his first goal of the afternoon and opening up the opportunity for the Black Knights to go on a 4-0 run.
• Doug Jones recorded his first collegiate goal in the 4-0 run.
• That run also saw another beautiful combo from Abshire and Nichtern, this time Nichtern providing the assist on Abshire's first of the day.
• The junior captain then threaded the needle for his second man-up goal of the day on a one-two punch from Danny Kielbasa.
• Follow up goals from Edinger and Byrnes gave the Black Knights an 8-7 advantage heading into the half.
• In the second period, Army outshot Syracuse 11-4 and closed the gap with a 6-1 run.
• Edinger started the third the same way he ended the second with a quick goal only 45 seconds into the period.
• Despite an answer from Syracuse in the 12th minute, Philipp and Edinger took the reins notching three goals between them and securing a hat trick for them both on the afternoon.
• Abshire would get the final say at the end of the third with a smooth behind the back netter to improve Army's run to four and improve their lead to five.
• Syracuse added two in the fourth quarter to give themselves a fighting chance, but the Army offense continued to push back.
• Nichtern and Abshire each added an additional two goals in the fourth with a fifth from Byrnes to officially secure the victory for the Black Knights.
Head Coach Joe Alberici's Thoughts: "I was really happy with how aggressive our guys played and continued to play throughout the game but were never reckless. To continue to play at that level and put together the quality of shots we were getting was just a great job by our whole offense today. It was a total team effort. It's about doing the little things and I'm really proud of the toughness that our guys showed. The Dome is a tough place to play whether there's fans or not so it was a terrific win for the Army family.”
Junior Captain Brendan Nichtern's Thoughts: "This win was awesome for many reasons. This game means a lot to our alumni and is something guys talk about for years to come. To win for the senior group and our alumni means a lot to us. For the team, I think this game shows every guy in the huddle that we can play with these highly respected teams. If we want to play on Memorial Day weekend, we will have to beat teams like that. The resilience starts with our tremendous senior class and leadership; we believed in ourselves and just had a next play mentality. I can promise you we will go down again sometime this season and to have a comeback like this under our belts will go a long way.”
Up Next: The Black Knights will return to West Point for their first home contest of the year against Saint Joseph's University on Feb. 27 at 12 p.m.