NCAA First Round: Dent’s 16 Saves Lead Army in Upset of Maryland

(Photo Courtesy of Army West Point Athletics)

For the first time since 2013, the Maryland Terrapins will not be advancing past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

The Army West Point Black Knights marched into College Park on Saturday night and took down the Terrapins in a 16-15 upset victory.

Knox Dent put on one of his best performances of the season, making 16 saves to anchor the Black Knights defense.

Gunnar Fellows netted a hat trick. Evan Plunkett and Reese Burek each had identical stat lines with one goal and three assists each. Will Coletti went 17-for-25 (48%) at the faceoff dot.

Saturday night saw the Black Knights come out of the gates firing with Avi Mehl, Ryan Sposito, and Gunnar Fellows making it a 3-0 Army game just four minutes into the contest.

Luke Wierman won the ensuing faceoff and took it down the middle for a score to get Maryland on the board. Wierman’s score would, however, be just one of two first-quarter goals for the Terrapins with Jack Koras getting the second off a dodge from behind where he bodied up his defender, made him drop his stick, and sent one past Dent.

Army finished the opening frame the same way they started it as Sposito, Mike Tangredi, and John Manero put home three straight scores to pull the Black Knights ahead 7-2. Along with that explosive first quarter, Will Coletti went 6-for-10 (60%) at the faceoff dot versus Luke Wierman.

As the quarter changed so did the proverbial script. Aided by Wierman going 7-for-8 (87%) at the dot during the frame, Maryland ripped off five straight goals in the second quarter to tie things up (7-7) with 3:48 remaining in the opening half. That run was sparked by a pair of Braden Erska scores early in the frame.

Both sides traded goals late to make it an 8-8 game heading into the half. Things would be tied five more times before the final buzzer sounded as both sides took shots at each throughout the final 30 minutes of play.

When Army needed players to step up, Finn McCullough and Andrew Kelly answered the call. McCullough scored the first and third goal of the third quarter, pulling Army ahead 9-8 and then 10-9. Kelly followed up McCullough’s second score with one of his own to pull Army ahead by two (11-9). That however, would be the largest lead for the Black Knights until Gunnar Fellow’s open-net score with 53 seconds left that got Army to 16.

Maryland closed out the third quarter on a three-goal run with scores from Daniel Maltz, Brett Makar, and Braden Erska to pull ahead 12-11. From that stretch forward, Maryland outscored Army 6-5. However, they never took the lead again after that one-goal lead at the close of the third frame.

Jacob Morin had gone 0-4 shooting entering the fourth quarter. However, he got on the board when it mattered the most as Morin put home both of his scores in the final frame. Morin followed an Evan Plunkett goal with a score of his own off a Plunkett feed to make it a 13-12 game with 14:01 left. Later in the frame, Morin sent home a rocket from 10 yards out to put Army back up 15-14. Gunnar Fellows open-netter followed to help put this one away.

Maryland out shot Army 15-9 in the fourth quarter overall and got off six shots in the final 4:03 in an attempt to tie it or get back ahead. A Daniel Kelly score coming out of a timeout with 36 seconds left is all they would get. The Terrapins had another opportunity coming out of a timeout with 29 ticks remaining but an Erska shot went high and a Koras shot went wide. Army’s Christian Fournier grabbed the ground ball off the Koras missed shot and was able to sling it down field to help kill the clock. AJ Pilate launched it further as time expired.

Knox Dent made six of his 16 saves during those final 15 minutes of play.

Maryland was led by Braden Erska with five points off four goals and one assist. Daniel Kelly and Eric Spanos each had two goals. Kyle Long dished out three assists.

Luke Wierman went 18-for-23 (51%) at the faceoff dot. He went 14-for-25 (56%) through the final three quarters.

Brian Ruppel made just five saves with a 23% save percentage.

Army moves to the NCAA Quarterfinals where they will play the winner of Penn State-Princeton.


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