Senior (2013) 41,5
Junior (2012) 40,4
Sophomore (2011) 42,3
Freshman (2010) 41,9
The past few seasons have gone well for the Army Black Knights. Coaches around the lacrosse landscape have felt that there was something special about Army that was almost reminiscent of days when the Service Academies were the perennial benchmarks in the game. Army could always rely on a strong defense. The team concept and work as a unit, has always held to the principals to which these academies value.
The new Army revolution was spurred by the emergence of a strong attack unit that had its moments as the best in the nation. The exclamation point on this unit was the strong lefty, Garrett Thul. Thul was probably the most consistent performer in the nation over his four years since Mike Powell in the early 2000s. If Army held onto the ball, it likely ended with Thul finishing. The four years he dedicated to the pursuits of his future with the United States Army may have also found a future in lacrosse.
Army Coach Joe Alberici must have been happy finding the perfect compliment to Jeremy Boltus, who had already registered this first two seasons at Army into the history book by the time Thul entered his first fall at the academy. Thul came in and right away went to work on making a name for himself. Registering nearly a hat trick a game, Thul saved his best for the playoff run. He registered two goals and an assist in the upset win against the defending champions, Syracuse. Syracuse had won the past two championships and started the tournament with their usual Sunday night first round game. In the tightly contested game, Army walked out of the Carrier Dome a winner and Thul would become a household lacrosse name for his next four seasons.
The Patriot League Rookie of the Year had finished the season well and was looked to continue his success to stay away from the dreaded Sophomore Slump. After producing fifty points as a freshman on 41 goals and 9 assists, Thul continued to take advantage of having Boltus behind the cage. He ended the season with another 40 plus goals (42 goals, 3 assists). In two seasons, Thul had produced over eighty goals and maybe more importantly, two wins over the rival Naval Academy. Navy’s win streak against Army was over and stopping Thul was going to be the first priority for the opposition during the next two seasons.
The Flemington, New Jersey native garnered All-America honors and now had two years to make a name for himself minus the recently graduated Jeremy Boltus. Production would likely have waned a little, but that would not be the case.
Thul went for another forty-goal season. His worked continued, as he was the primary finisher for the team for a third straight season. His five goals against Navy were his best on the season. Over a hundred and twenty goals in three years, another All-American nod, and now a leader for a team and institution in which leadership takes on a whole new meaning.
Entering his Senior Season, he was again on the Tewaaraton Nominee list and an early favorite for the award. Again his production went above the forty-goal marker as he chipped in forty-one in total. His leadership was even more important now, as the injury bug had bitten him during the season. His final game in the Cadet uniform was against Johns Hopkins. The upset attempt by the Black Knights was thwarted by the Blue Jays, but the gutsy performance of Thul highlighted what unfortunately for Army was an early end to the season.
With the end of the college season, Thul shifted his focus to the world of Major League Lacrosse. The MLL rookie with the Hamilton Nationals, who drafted Thul with their 21st pick, had another place to continue to build on his success. A modest start to his career if you consider how he came into his own at Army as a freshman, Thul found light production as his contribution to the team. That is until 27 July 2013. On this day, Thul made it clear that he belonged in the league with the biggest names in the game. He pumped in five goals and an assist in the Nationals’ win against the Boston Cannons.
Maybe to some Thul’s selection to the National Try-out Roster was a surprise. A three –time All-America recipient, Army’s leading goal scorer in this rich history, and a man who played in every game of his career, should not be a surprise at all. His development hasn’t necessarily been shown on the scorecard. His four consecutive forty goal seasons at Army do not scream that he is an all round player, but Thul certainly is.
As each season has progressed during Thul’s career, he has had to deal with new defenses that are designed to shut him down. He also has had some of the best defenders in the nation lining up against him. As the defenses were turned up to stop Thul, he continued to be the most premiere goal scorer in the nation. His talent amongst the professional ranks is certainly going to improve if his service commitments do not render him unavailable.
As a member of Team USA and making the final 52 players competing to make the most elite team in the world is certainly an honor that Garrett Thul is thankful for. What he offers the team is more than his goal scoring potential. The produced some of his best work against the Naval Academy, in what is the most storied and tenacious rivalries in the game. The goals he can produce will certainly be something that the team will treasure if he should make the final roster, but the leadership in being a Military Academy Graduate and Captain of his team, has rewards that Team USA will benefit from. The games where Army fought against Navy are reminiscent of the Canada v. United States games on the international level.
For most Service Academy Graduates, the final days on campus are likely the last that they will spend playing the game that likely helped get them on campus. Thul has an opportunity to do so much more. Not only does he have the chance to defend our country from threats both foreign and domestic, he has the opportunity to clash with them on the lacrosse field defending our country in Denver during the summer of 2014.