Army's Historic Win Over Navy Fueled by First-Time Starter Lacey Bartholomay


Army goalkeeper Lacey Bartholomay spent most of Saturday’s matchup against Navy on guard.

Feeling “poised and calm,” she put up stop after stop to keep the Mids at arm’s length. But, when the Black Knights regained possession with a five-goal lead with just nine seconds to go, the magnitude of the game came into full focus.

Army had done it. The Black Knights took down the Mids for the first time in program history.

“There was so much to feel in one moment,” Bartholomay said. “There’s no way to describe it. I was beyond happy but also so emotional because we had done something that had never been done. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced.”

Once the clock hit zero, Bartholomay and her teammates spared no time celebrating.

The bench exploded off the sideline, running toward Bartholomay and the defenders embracing on the field. Once they moved off the field, Bartholomay’s teammates picked her up and threw her in the air. The emotions even extended to the handshake line, where Bartholomay said some of her teammates were laughing while others cried.

Coach Michelle Tumolo found herself emotional even before the game started, overwhelmed by getting to take part in the Army-Navy rivalry. When the game ended, she embraced her assistants, wiped the tears from her eyes and went through the full spectrum of emotions all over again.

“For this team to be able to go down in history forever is something I’m so proud of,” Tumolo said. “I couldn’t help the waterworks. I was such an emotional wreck. It was such a good feeling.”

Bartholomay quickly emerged as the star of the game for the Black Knights. She recorded 11 saves through the first half and had 17 by end of the matchup for the best game of her career. She answered the call, Tumolo said, doing just what her team asked of her.

Despite the challenging, neck-and-neck first half, Bartholomay felt no fear. She said the whole team went into the game on the same page, recognizing that it would take a full team effort to defeat Navy. She was confident because of their preparation, she said.

Saturday’s victory wasn’t the only time Bartholomay has embraced confidence this season, however. Entering 2022, Bartholomay had no playing time under her belt. Since then, she has started all but one game for Army. She said her confidence has significantly increased over the course of the season. Her teammates and coaches have supported her and helped her grow into the starting role.

The Black Knights graduated a number of talented defenders, including Lauren Bredenburg, who led the team in ground balls in 2021, and starting goalkeeper Hannah Slomkowski. But several talented players — Bartholomay chief among them — have stepped up.

Defender Ceara Sweeney has taken over as the team’s leader in ground balls, notching 31 so far, and defender Malina Hatton has been a standout with 16 caused turnovers. Bartholomay said Sweeney has been a strong leader in the unit, calling her growth over the season “incredible” to see.

“She’s one of those people I look to before a game and I’m like, ‘We’ve got this,’” Bartholomay said. “I know I can be fully confident that she is going to do whatever she can to keep the ball from getting [in the goal]. And if it does, I’m going to have her back and she has mine.”

Army’s offense has more often been the head-turning unit this season, featuring four players who have garnered 40-plus goals and a top-25 scoring offense. But their defense, led by Bartholomay, stole the show on Saturday.

Just a few months ago, Bartholomay hadn’t even played in a regular season college game. Now, she has helped power the program to an 11-5 record and led the Black Knights to a win for the ages.

“It really is hard to put into words everything we all felt in those final few seconds, and I think that will stick with me and my teammates for the rest of our lives,” Bartholomay said. “I’m excited to see where this team continues to grow and continues to break records [and] make history.”

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