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Navy Finds Answer on Face-Offs, Propels Past Lafayette


Navy scored three goals in 37 seconds to open the fourth quarter in an 11-3 victory over Lafayette on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The goals came on three consecutive shots and were set up by face-off wins from freshman Brady Dove (Kent Island, Md.).

“The three-goal run on face-offs, you’re going to win games if you do that,” Leopards coach Jim Rogalski said afterward.

Dove has been a difference for much of this season for Navy (3-2, 2-1 Patriot League). Coach Rick Sowell says Dove “may be our most important player right now.”

On Friday night, Dove won 12 of 17 face-offs against the Leopards (1-4, 1-2).

Lafayette used several schemes with two longsticks on the wings or a longstick taking the face-off and another on the wings. Yet for the most part, Dove handled it all.

Last year against Lafayette, face-offs were far more even and the game was very close. Navy won 14 of 26 face-offs and held on to win, 12-11. Lafayette junior Brian Bock had four goals and three assists in that game.

On Friday, Bock was guarded by senior Nik Mullen and finished with one assist and went 0 for 4 shooting.

Mullen’s (archived Picture)

 
 
 
 

performance was mirrored by the rest of the defense. Sophomore John Connors finished with 13 saves;

and the shortstick defensive midfielders in particular kept Lafayette’s dodging middies from initiating offense and getting the defense moving. The d-middies were juniors Brendan Gaine and Alex Heyward and freshman John Trainor (Northport, N.Y.).

KEEPING UP WITH JONES
Navy senior Sam Jones finished with three goals, two assists and five groundballs. He also had countless effort plays.

A parent watching the game with a few high school-aged players was overheard commenting to them, “Look at Navy [in the riding game]. They never stop.”

In the final three quarters, thanks in large part to the effort of Navy’s attack, Lafayette went 9 for 14 on clears.

“We rely on our attack, the way they hustle and scrap and fight,” Sowell says. “Sam epitomizes that. It’s exciting to watch him. We turned it over early in the third quarter and boom, Sam scraps and gets it back. … It’s great when you have attackmen who ride like that.”

Says Jones, “We want the riding game to be a staple of Navy lacrosse. I think we have the ability to be the best riding team in the country. When you go out there you may not have the best game on offense or defense but riding, that’s all hustle and desire.”

And for all the points and highlights, Jones says he hopes he is remembered for something far different.

“That’s what I want to be known for, I want to look back and say that I rode harder than anybody,” Jones says.

A BUSY NIGHT
Navy used senior Austin Heneveld all over the place: He played on the first midfield, second midfield and as a wing on face-offs. Heneveld finished with two goals.

On Navy’s first 26 settled offensive possessions through the middle of the fourth quarter, Heneveld was in the game for 17.

 

Junior Gabe Voumard also finished with two goals for Navy.

 

STANDING OUT
Lafayette senior Jake Hyatt finished with 15 saves, including at least three in each quarter. Rogalski considers Hyatt one of the best goalies in the Patriot League – he entered the game with a .543 save percentage and made 15 saves in an 8-7 victory over Colgate on Feb. 22.

Two main problems for the Leopards are face-offs and extra-man offense. The Leopards entered 1 for 12 on E.M.O. and went 1 for 8 against Navy.

They also entered winning 27.1 percent on face-offs and went 5 for 17.

“There are certain things we’re going to have to look at offensively,” Rogalski says. “Between the pipes we’re solid with Hyatt. … Extra-man offense is something we will be looking at hard in the film room.”

Senior John Floyd, freshman Kevin Lewis (Delbarton, N.J.) and sophomore Robert Orazietti scored one goal each for Lafayette. 

Navy's Sam Jones fires a shot that gets past Lafayette's Jake Hyatt.
 POSTSCRIPT

Seven days after Navy’s offense grabbed the headlines in an explosive drubbing of Patriot League rival Holy Cross, the defense took its turn in the spotlight.

Sophomore goalkeeper John Connors finished with 13 saves and the unit allowed its fewest goals in almost two years in Friday night’s 11-3 thumping of Lafayette at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

The three goals were the fewest surrendered by the Midshipmen (3-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference) since an 8-2 victory over Johns Hopkins on April 21, 2012, and the Leopards were limited to just 24 shots, including three in the final quarter.

After the offense erupted for 21 goals in a nine-goal rout of the Crusaders on Saturday, the defense chose a good time to show up.

“This week was defense as a team, essentially,” said senior defenseman Nik Mullen, who held Lafayette junior attackman Brian Bock, the team's leading scorer, to zero goals and one assist. “We had defense coming down from [senior attackman] Sam [Jones], [sophomore attackman Patrick] Keena, PK [senior long-stick midfielder Pat Kiernan], all the midfielders and the rest of the attackmen riding.

"So, I think the defense went hand-in-hand. People who are on offense also play defense. I think that’s where we got our momentum from, and we started scoring goals. It transferred from defense to offense.”

Coach Rick Sowell was equally impressed with the defensive effort.

“We’re pretty good down there,” he said. “I didn’t realize that Nik held the kid to one assist. But it was an overall good team effort. It was a good scheme. Coach [Ryan] Wellner has done a great job with that group, and John came up big for us. He had 13 saves for us tonight and we just played sound. Just a good all-around performance by everyone.”

After yielding 10.2 goals per game last season, Navy is permitting just 7.6 goals per game this season. The unit has added three new starters in freshman defensemen Chris Fennell and Matt Rees (Boys’ Latin) and freshman short-stick midfielder John Trainor without skipping much of a beat, according to Connors.

“We just have good chemistry, talking to each other, getting on each other to pick up our games,” he said. “We just work hard together. We’re all on the same page, and today was the first time we actually showed it. There wasn’t really a lull. So hopefully, we can keep this going.”

Other notes:

* The Midshipmen’s attack also got into the act, contributing to Lafayette (1-4, 1-2) failing on 5 of 21 clears. Jones, a Severna Park graduate who finished with three goals and two assists, said the unit prides itself on harassing opposing defensemen into making mistakes. “You’re not always going to be able to do what you want on offense,” he said. “You’re going to have a bad day. … Sometimes, it’s just not going to be for you because that’s sports, but you can always ride. That’s what we want to be known for. We want to be scrappy and we want to be known as the best riding team in America. … We want that to be a staple of Navy lacrosse.” The effort was appreciated by Sowell, who said: “It’s fun watching them play, and it’s just great when you have attackmen riding like that. You don’t have to have great schemes. You just let them do what they do, and we’re lucky to have them.”

* One development that did not please Sowell was the eight penalties resulting in seven minutes of man-down defense for Navy. The team successfully killed seven of those opportunities for the Leopards, but Sowell knows the Midshipmen – who have fouled 23 times for 19 minutes of penalty time this season – are flirting with disaster if they can’t cut down on infractions. “We’ve got to stop fouling and be a little bit more under control,” he said. “But [eight] penalties, we’re not going to win too many ball games fouling [eight] times. But for tonight, our defense held up and hopefully, we’ll take care of that and won’t be fouling as much in the future.”

* Senior Austin Heneveld is an interchangeable member of the first and second midfields, but he may have put forth his best argument to be a starter. Joining senior Pat Durkin and junior Gabe Voumard on the first line, Heneveld scored two goals on seven shots. Sowell wouldn’t go as far as anointing Heneveld as a permanent starter, but noted his value on the field. “He’s a heck of an athlete,” Sowell said. “We’ve got him on the wings on faceoffs now. You can see why with the ground balls he came up with tonight. He runs on the first midfield, the second midfield. We just make sure we’ve got to get him out there as much as we can.”