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Garrett Thul finished the 2010 season with 41 goals and nine assists.

Garrett Thul finished the 2010 season with 41 goals and nine assists.

Army freshman Garrett Thul is getting some major recognition for his outstanding rookie campaign. Thul was named Freshman of the Year by InsideLacrosse.com, the first Black Knight to ever receive that honor.

To quote our vice president, this is a big f#@!*%& deal. Thul, who already earned Patriot League Rookie of the Year honors, beat out a bunch of highly recruited studs from Johns Hopkins, North Carolina, Syracuse, Cornell and other traditional lax powerhouses.

An attackman, Thul led Army with 41 goals and was second on the team with 50 points. He helped propel Army to the Patriot League championship and a monster upset of defending champion Syracuse in NCAA tournament.

As a team, Army was unbeaten in the Patriot League for the first time ever and finished ranked ninth in the Nike Division I Top 20 poll. The Blakc Knights probably had their best season since 1984, and the win over Syracuse will go down as one of the all-time upsets in NCAA tournament history. More importantly, they beat Navy twice, which is all the really matters.

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Army failed to earn a trip to lacrosse's Final Four held this year in Baltimore, Md.

Army failed to earn a trip to lacrosse's Final Four in Baltimore, Md.

Not much was expected from this Army lacrosse team, especially after its deflating loss to Air Force to end a four-game losing streak early this season. A run to the Patriot League Championship and an upset over No. 2 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA Tournament didn’t seem possible.

The fairy tale run came to an end, though, at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium after Army fell to Cornell 14-5.

Cornell scored the first four goals to establish a lead they never relinquished and continually squashed any momentum Army could muster in front of a pro-Army crowd. Army took the Big Red to overtime earlier this season, but junior attackman Jeremy Boltus said he and his teammates didn’t play their best game Sunday.

“It definitely wasn’t our best performance. We got down, but that’s nothing new to us,” he said. “We rushed things and didn’t play within ourselves. We didn’t do our best to keep in the game. We took the first shot instead of the best shot and ran into a hot goaltender. Give Cornell credit — their defense played well, and they got out in transition and converted.”

Army trailed Cornell 8-3 at halftime and notched the first goal of the second half. However, the Big Red answered right back and eventually scored six unanswered goals to run away from the Black Knights.

“When we got to 8-4, they made it 9-4,” said Army coach Joe Alberici. “Any time that we were able to get one, they answered right back, and that’s a credit to them.”

Alberici returns a young squad next year including freshman attackman Garrett Thul who scored once against Cornell. Thul, though, finished the season with 41 goals and nice assists, making him the program’s most proficient freshman goal scorer. Boltus also returns along with goalie Tom Palesky, who made 11 saves in the loss to Cornell.

Army’s season ends in disappointment, but it has to go down as its most successful since a Final Four appearance in 1984 and raises expectations for next year.

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Junior goalkeep Tom Palesky made 18 saves Tuesday night against Lafayette.

Junior goalkeep Tom Palesky made 18 saves Tuesday night against Lafayette.

Army barely held onto what was once a six goal second half lead to beat Lafayette and clinch the top seed in next week’s Patriot League Tournament. The Leopards outscored the Black Knights 9-3 in the second half, but didn’t have enough in the tank to overtake Army, who sneaked by with a 15-14 win.

Junior attackman Jeremy Boltus led the Black Knights with a career high eight points notching three goals and five assists. Freshman attackman Garrett Thul also continued his standout rookie season with four goals and one assist of his own.

Having sewn up the league regular season championship, the Black Knights will host the Patriot League Tournament for the second time in three years. Navy and Lafayette have also clinched spots in the tournament. The winner of Saturday’s Bucknell-Colgate game will claim the final tournament berth.

Picked in the preseason to finish fourth in the Patriot, Army has a chance to go undefeated if it beats league cellar dweller Holy Cross on Saturday. Despite their dominant league season, Army will still need to win the league championship to feel comfortable about making the NCAA Tournament. The four-team tournament starts April 30, with the championship on May 2.

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