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Men's Lacrosse

Navy Men's Lacrosse Earns Star

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Midfielder Joe deLyra scored a career-high three goals, while Spencer Rees orchestrated a spectacular defensive effort from between the pipes with a career-best 19 saves to lead the 16th-ranked Navy men's lacrosse team to a 9-4 victory over No. 10 Army Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The Mids also clinched a berth in the  2021 Patriot League Championship as the No. 3 seed in the South Division.

The victory marked Navy's sixth in a row against Army when the Black Knights have been ranked in the top 10 (1993, 2014, 2015 2x, 2017,2021). Additionally, the Mids, who lead the all-time series 62-36-3, have won five of the last six (2019) Star Games.

Two of the best defensive units in the country were on display Saturday, as both teams looked to neutralize the other team's best offensive threat. Army came into the contest ranked No. 4 nationally and tops in the Patriot League, allowing 8.88 goals per game, while the Mids stood No. 18, including fifth in the league, giving up an even 10.

The two teams duked it out for 60 minutes and while Army All-American defenseman Marcus Hudgins held Navy leading scorer Christian Daniel in check (had 1 assist), the Mids' defense buckled down and allowed just four goals in the game. It was the fewest goals Army has scored in a game since Loyola defeated the Black Knights 13-4 on April 30, 2017. Meanwhile, it was the fewest goals scored by Army in an Army-Navy Game (Star Game or otherwise) since the Mids beat the Black Knights 8-4 on April 11, 2009.

Army managed just a single goal in the opening half and just one goal over the final 17-plus minutes of the contest. Navy co-captain Nick Franchuk drew the task of defending the nation's eighth-leading scorer (5.38 points/gm) in junior attackman Brendan Nichtern. Franchuk held the Black Knights' offensive maestro scoreless and forced three turnovers by the Tewaaraton Award nominee.

With both teams' leading scorers shut down, both head coaches looked to other players to step up. deLyra, a member of the Mids' second midfield line, led a cast of Midshipmen who filled that role.

deLyra gave Navy a 1-0 lead midway through the opening quarter when he beat the shot clock for his first goal of the season off an assist from Nick Cole.

Army, meanwhile, would be held scoreless for just over 15 minutes before third-year attackman Aidan Byrnes leveled the score with his first of two goals on the day at the 14:27 mark in the second quarter.

Navy's defense held Army without a goal for the remainder of the half, while back-to-back goals by freshmen Max Hewitt and Dane Swanson provided Navy a 3-1 lead at the break.

Jon Jarosz became the fourth different scorer and the third freshman to notch a goal on the afternoon for the Mids when, with the shot clock once again winding down, he wrapped around the right side of the goal and tossed his shot over the head of Army goalie Wyatt Schupler to give Navy a 4-1 lead.

Byrnes answered Jarosz's goal with one of his own to get Army back to within two with 8:25 to play in the third quarter. That would be the closest Army would come the rest of the way, as Navy outscored Army 5-2 over the final 22 minutes of the contest. During that time, deLyra would complete his first-collegiate hat trick, while Hewitt would get his second goal and middie James Flannery punched in a pair.

All three of deLyra's goals were scored at key moments, including his goal with 7:05 left in the third quarter where he was Johnny-on-the-spot and came up with a loose ball in front of the crease and sent his shot to the back of the net to give Navy a three-goal advantage (5-2). His goal at 5:10 in the fourth frame was the first of three-consecutive goals by the Mids over a three-minute span that salted the game away.

deLyra's performance mimicked that of a storybook ending as the three-year letter winner came into the game having made just three appearances this season and without a point. He scored his three goals on five shots, while also grabbing a pair of ground balls and forcing an Army turnover.

Navy's remaining six goals were scored by players making their first Army-Navy appearance, including four by rookies. Hewitt, who was making just his second-career start, finished the game with a pair of goals after coming into the contest with just two goals on the year.

Rees played a huge role in holding off a second-half surge by the Black Knights. Fourteen of his 19 saves were made over the final 30 minutes, making five stops on 11 shots in the third quarter and nine saves on 20 shots in the fourth. His 19 saves were the most by a Navy player since All-Patriot League performer Ryan Kern turned aside 19 shots against Princeton on March 5, 2019.

Navy also had the advantage at the faceoff "x" where Jacob Jarosz put together another solid performance, winning 10 of the 17 draws to keep the ball on Navy's offensive end of the field.

Byrnes led the way for Army with two goals, while middies Nickolas Edinger and Danny Kielbasa accounted for the remaining two. Schupler ended the game with 10 saves, making just three stops in the second half, while Hudgins and fellow defenseman Kyle Beyer record three takeaways apiece.