Navy Opens 2010 Lacrosse Season with 16-5 Win Over VMI
Junior Brian Stiffler produced a career-high three points (1G, 2A) in the win over VMI.
Feb. 13, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The 11th-ranked Navy men's lacrosse team jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back as the Mids claimed a 16-5 win over VMI Saturday afternoon at Rip Miller Field in what was both teams' season opener. A strong offensive display that featured goals by 11 different Midshipmen, helped Navy weather a rare pair of three-minute stick penalties.
After more than three feet of snow blanketed the Annapolis area, including Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the contest was moved to Rip Miller Field on the grounds of the Naval Academy. It was the first time the Mids have played on that field since 2005 when the Navy-Georgetown game was played over the course of two days. Played in a torrential downpour, the game was suspended after the first quarter when referee Scott Boyle collapsed and died on the field. Due to the field conditions at a then grass-covered Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the game was completed the following day at Rip Miller Field.
Despite the chilly weather conditions, a crowd of better than 1,600 showed up to the field to cheer on Navy. The Midshipmen, who have faced VMI in the opener in each of the last three seasons, have now won nine straight season openers, outscoring their foes at an amazing 112-23 rate (12.4-2.5). The last time head coach Richie Meade's Mids dropped a season opener was in 2001 when UMBC escaped with a 9-8 overtime win at Rip Miller Field in Annapolis.
"I felt like we played a lot better today than how we did a year ago at this same time," said Meade, who is in his 16th season as the Mids' head coach. "We definitely have some things to work out before we play Loyola next week, but certainly we did some things today that we can build off."
In a complete turnaround from last year's performance which saw the Keydets as the aggressor, Navy scored quickly and at times, at will. Second-year midfielder Nikk Davis (Cockeysville, Md.) put the Mids on the board just under two minutes into the contest when he fired off a lefty shot from the right wing.
Navy then scored three consecutive goals in less that two minutes, as Navy took a 4-0 lead with 7:52 remaining in the opening quarter. Among the three goals was a side-winder from junior Kevin Doyle (Towson, Md.), who has worked his way onto the second midfield line after not seeing any action in 2009. Meanwhile, the third of the three goals during the run was scored on a Brendan Connors-to-Patrick Moran play when the Mids were two men up.
The Mids pushed the lead to 5-0 when sophomore midfielder Taylor Cook (Hollywood, Md.) fought his way through a crowd of defensemen, spinning twice before burying his first career goal. Thirty-three seconds later, junior attackman Andy Warner (Corning, N.Y.) scored the first of his three goals on the day. Navy's final goal of the quarter was scored on an errant clear with senior midfielder Basil Daratsos (Niskayuna, N.Y.) picking off a pass and taking it in the for the goal.
The start of the second quarter marked two distinct changes within the game. First, VMI head coach Jeff Shirk benched keeper Sean McCoy and inserted sophomore Kelly McMinn, who would go on and play a solid contest. The second, meanwhile, was the first of two illegal stick penalties called on Navy, this time it was Warner.
The three-minute stick penalty cost Navy a pair of goals, including a Keith Long-to-Brett Leonard strike just 17 seconds into the quarter. The Mids, who managed to rack up a staggering seven penalties in the game, weathered a 1:00 minute cross check by Joe McAuliffe (Vero Beach, Fla.), but the 30-second push by Doyle leant the Keydets to their third straight extra-man goal, closing to within four goals.
Navy eluded getting shut out in the quarter when Davis fed senior midfielder Joe Lennon who cranked an overhead shot past McMinn with 1:05 to play.
The Mids opened the second half much like it did the first. The Mids drilled home three straight goals, including an acrobatic goal by Warner who caught a Brian Striffler (Virginia Beach, Va.) pass in mid air and punched it in over the keeper's shoulder.
The Keydets briefly stopped the Mids momentum when Tim Moran scored on the run at 3:23 in the, marking VMI's first settled goal of the contest.
Navy, though, rattled off three in a row, as the Mids closed out the quarter with a McAuliffe goal in transition. It was McAuliffe's second career goal and the first since his freshman season.
Navy began the fourth quarter with its second stick penalty, but this time Navy's defense was able to stave off VMI's extra-man offense. The Mids outscored the Keydets 2-1 in the final stanza with the final goal of the contest scored by Navy rookie Cade Norris (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.).
Defensively, Navy gave up just two settled goals, both by Moran who was the Keydets' leading scorer a year ago. Navy sophomore keeper RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) played a strong game, making 12 saves between the pipes.
"I thought as a team we played well," said Wickham, who started six games for the Mids a year ago. "We had to overcome some adversity with the two stick penalties, but we stuck together and got through it."
"We were lucky today," Meade said in response to the stick penalties. "That's a concern for us. There are some new stick rules that went into effect this year and stick penalties could become a huge factor in the game. I just don't remember us getting called for stick penalties like this. We'll sit down and address it and make sure that what we are playing with fits within the parameters."
The Midshipmen will be back in action next Saturday when they play host to Loyola. Faceoff is slated for 12:00 pm at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The game will be streamed online via Navy All-Access at www.NavySports.com, while fans can also tune in to 1430 WNAV to hear Joe Miller call the game.