The Army Black Knights will visit the Carrier Dome on Sunday at 4 PM. This will be 62nd all-time matchup between these two teams, and while the Syracuse Orange dominated the matchup recently don't forget Army's first round upset of Syracuse in 2010.
Army is somewhat lacking at midfield but this squad does have some interesting strengths. Army's netminder, AJ Barretto, came to West Point ranked as the eighth best incoming recruit. So far, the freshman has been outstanding, but I am very interested to see how he will respond to the Syracuse shooting gallery. Additionally, Army has a duo at the faceoff X that could give Ben Williams some trouble. The Army attack is young, but capable. I thought that the Syracuse defense did a tremendous job against the Albany Great Danes attackmen last week, and while this shouldn't be as big of a test, I am curious as to whether Nick Mellen can continue his fantastic start.
Overall, I don't think the Army matchup will give SU any issues and I expect a win with a significant goal differential.
Army Quick Facts
Army's All-Time Record Vs. SU: 40-22
Army's Streak Vs. SU: L4
Army's Last Win Vs. SU: May 6, 2010; Army 8 - SU 7 (2OT) (NCAA 1st Round)
Army's 2015 Record: 10-7; Patriot League Runner Up; Did not make NCAAT
Army's 2016 Record: 2-1; Wins versus UMass and VMI; Loss versus Rutgers
2016 Patriot League Preseason Coaches' Poll: #4 out of nine
2016 Patriot League Preseason All-Conference Players: Cole Johnson (Attack); Austin Schultz (Defense)
The leading point scorer on Army is Cole Johnson. The junior had a monster sophomore year putting up 53 points. Johnson is one of the few guys in division I coming out of the state of Washington. Against SU in 2015, Cole put up two goals on five shots. Connor Cook is probably the best attackman on the Army roster. Currently, the junior has seven goals and no assists in the 2016 season. He is following up a 43 point season and has 60 goals and 19 assists in his career. Nick Santorelli hails from Alexandria, VA. After starting the first game against UMass and not putting up a point, Santorelli has, however, scored four points in his last two games as a reserve. He was a 2013 All-American in high school and I think the ceiling is pretty high for him. Fellow freshman Nate Jones started the last two games in place of Santorelli and has had at least two goals in each of Army's three games this season.
Jimbo Moore has started all three games on the first midfield line this year, totaling 18 career starts. He has three goals and two assists this year. The junior from Lynchburg, VA, hopes to break through his ceiling of 19 points in his sophomore season. Fellow junior Shea Mullins started just one game this season but could be running with the first midfield as well. He's got 28 career points and has put up three goals on seven shots this season. Avery Littlejohn ran with the first midfield line in the first two games of Army's 2016 season but was supplanted by Mullins against VMI. In 2015 Littlejohn had eight goals and four assists, but this year the junior has just one goal on nine shots.
As a freshman, Conor Glancy started the final five games of the season and had just ten points. The Black Knights will be looking for much more from him this year.
The Black Knights will be using a duo at the faceoff X. Junior Dan Grabher had a .579 winning percentage in 2015 and through three games this season he has pulled in 27 of 38 faceoffs. He had 84 groundballs last year and currently has 11 in in 2016. Alex Daly was the primary faceoff guy in his freshman year, but has since split time with Grabher. The senior has a .720 winning percentage this season and a .571 career winning percentage. Overall, Army is ranked fifth in the country for faceoff winning percentage, a category which Syracuse is ranked second. This could be a legitimate test for Ben Williams and I wouldn't be shocked to see more of Cal Paduda on Sunday, if only to keep Army on its toes.
Austin Schultz has started every game in his sophomore, junior, and senior years. As a junior in 2015, Schultz was named a USILA Honorable Mention All-American for his 18 groundballs and six caused turnovers. The Lancaster, PA native began his collegiate career with the Bucknell Bison before taking a year off and transferring to West Point. Junior Reaves Klipstein had a solid 2015 season, pulling in 29 groundballs and 10 caused turnovers. As the second most experienced starting defenseman on the squad, Klipstein will be relied on heavily this year and already has 14 groundballs and two caused turnovers. Finally there is Sam Finney, a 6'3" senior who had not started a game in his previous three seasons but has seen the field in 17 games. After starting in all three games this year, he has totaled five groundballs and a caused turnover.
AJ Barretto comes to West Point ranked as the #1 goalie recruit in his class. He is ranked 16th in division I for save percentage with a .571 percentage and is sporting a 7.21 goals against average, good enough for 17th in the nation. The freshman will get his first big test of his career against Syracuse, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure from a ‘Cuse program that has put up an astonishing 100 shots through three games.
Syracuse will host the Army Black Knights on Sunday at 4 PM. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3 and can be heard on TK99. Of course you can follow me @Orangelax for game updates.