Annual Goat-Engineer games set the tone at West Point for the Army-Navy Game
Story and photos by Mike Strasser
The U.S. Military Academy's annual Goat-Engineer Game dates back to 1905 and popular legend dictates a Goat victory favors an Army win over Navy. Although it hasn't been a reliable predictor historically, true believers should find the outcome of this year's Goat-Engineer Game bodes well for the Black Knights when they take on the Midshipmen Dec. 8 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
The Dec. 5 flag football game features two teams based on academic ranking, so the bottom half of the class--the Goats--challenge the top half of the class--the Engineers for bragging rights.
The Goats defeated the Engineers, 15-6, and for Class of 2013 Cadet Rashad Shelton, the win was an awesome experience despite never hearing about the lore behind the game.
"We put a real team effort out here tonight and it felt great to have fun with everybody," Shelton, a member of the Men's Tennis team, said. "If it means a win for Army then I'm looking forward to Saturday."
The Goat-Engineer Game is more about spirit and camaraderie during Army-Navy Week festivities at West Point than the actual outcome.
"We came out together and really gelled together as a team," Shelton said. "The team didn't really know each other and now we're like a band of brothers. The relationships we created through this was an awesome experience."
The game may be about tradition and esprit de corps but the teams do take it seriously, especially during the practices under the watchful eyes of their cadet coaching staffs.
"We put a lot of time in, a lot of practice, for this and like anything, hard work pays off," Class of 2013 Cadet Brad Strimel, an electrical engineer major, said.
Strimel is confident the Black Knights can beat Navy this weekend.
"This is the class, this is the year and this is the team that's going to get it done," Strimel said. "The fans are going to get it done in the crowd. We're going to beat them this year."
As early as 1999, the women's flag football game was played the day before the Goat-Engineer game. Starting in 2007, both men's and women's games shared the same spotlight at Michie Stadium.
This year, the Goat team featured the entire Women's Army Rugby roster, which attributed much to its aggressive defense. The Engineers were more diverse in their athletic talents, which included members from the Army Volleyball, Lacrosse, Track and Soccer squads, and secured the victory, 11-8.
It was the 107th iteration of the classic Goat-Engineer Game, an Army-Navy Week tradition that dates back to 1905 when the Corps of Cadets were not authorized to leave post and so they played football. Four teams ran onto the field at Michie Stadium Dec. 5 in the spirit of competition that is the hallmark of Army-Navy Week at the U.S. Military Academy. In the men's tackle football contest, the Goats beat the Engineers, 15-6 and in the women's flag football game, it was the Engineers toppling the Goats, 11-8.
As early as 1999, the women's flag football game was played the day before the Goat-Engineer game. Starting in 2007, both men's and women's games shared the same spotlight at Michie Stadium. This year, the Goat team featured the entire Women's Army Rugby roster, which attributed much to its aggressive defense. The Engineers were more diverse in their athletic talents, which included members from the Army Volleyball, Lacrosse, Track and Soccer squads, and secured the victory, 11-8.
"We played awesome and had a lot of fun," Class of 2013 Cadet Ali McKearn said after her team earned the win. "There's going to be some rivalry involved because we are really competitive, but after the game we're all friendly together."
Class of 2013 Cadet Brenna Heisterman, the 2nd Regiment commander, said the Goats had the advantage of having a roster of rugby players with strong team cohesion. Still, the Engineers benefited from a few practices and had coaches to teach them the plays.
"It's cool to have bragging rights now, but win or lose, it's still just a good time for everyone," Heisterman said.
The teams will look forward to cheering on their Army Football team Dec. 8, many of them confirming a strong belief within the Corps of Cadets that the Army team will prevail and claim the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
"After beating Air Force, we have a really good shot at the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, so everyone is pumped," McKearn said. "I really think this is our year." "We all have a really good feeling about this game," Heisterman said. "We all want the trophy and we're going after it."