8-0 Run Leads Navy to 13-6 Win Over Bucknell
LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Navy men’s lacrosse team (3-2, 1-1 Patriot League) hit on all cylinders Saturday afternoon, as the Mids won the battle on offense, defense and at the faceoff “x” in a 13-6 victory over Bucknell (3-2, 0-2 PL) at Christy Mathewson Stadium. The 13 goals scored by the Midshipmen are tied as the second most by Navy in the series and the most since it defeated the Bison, 17-7, in 1997.
“We felt like we let one slip away last week and given the parity in the league, we can’t make a living out of giving games away,” said Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “But if you go back to last year, we lost a tough one against Bucknell at home in our opener and then went up to play a nationally-ranked Holy Cross team and got a win to turn our season around. I knew we had it in us. It started with the way we practiced this week and it was fun to see it unfold today.”
Navy got on the scoreboard first when rookie Greyson Torain (M/Glen Burnie, Md.) found sophomore attackman Jack Ray (Wyckoff, N.J.) just three minutes into the contest. Bucknell answered with four minutes remaining in the opening quarter on a left alleyway dodge by junior midfielder Tommy O’Connor.
The Mids took the lead a second time when, with the timer on, Casey Rees (So./Sykesville, Md.) drained his shot off an assist from senior Kevin Wendel (East Islip, N.Y.) two minutes into the second quarter. Bucknell answered once again by scoring back-to-back goals that included an extra-man strike by Sean Doyle to give the Bison their lone lead of the game, 3-2.
Navy, though, scored three in a row, including two straight by senior attackman T.J. Hanzsche (Berwyn, Pa.) to take a 5-3 lead with under three minutes to play in the opening half. Bucknell would have the final say before the break when senior Kyle Shanahan beat both his defender and the slide to trim Navy’s lead to one (5-4) at the half.
The Mids’ offense was on fire in the second half, outscoring the Bison, 8-2, including 8-0 over the first 17 minutes. Navy gave up two late goals in the game (2:44 Will Sands, 0:57 Quinn Collison), but the Mids secured their first win in the series since 2010. The seven-goal win marked the largest margin of victory by the Mids in the series since they defeated the Bison, 17-7, in 1997.
Five players accounted for Navy’s 13 goals with three players finishing with hat tricks. It’s the fourth time under Sowell’s direction that three Navy players have scored three or more goals and the first since last year’s VMI game (4-Dave Little, 4-T.J. Hanzsche, 3-Kevin Wendel).
Casey Rees turned in his second straight hat trick, punching in a remarkable four goals on four shots. Meanwhile, Ray posted his fifth career hat trick and second this season with four goals and Hanzsche contributed three goals for his seventh collegiate hat trick and first this year.
Senior co-captain Patrick Keena (A/Vienna, Va.) finished with a goal and three assists which extended his point-scoring streak to eight straight games. Additionally, he moved into a tie for 19th on Navy’s career assists leader board alongside Owen McFadden (1964-66) with 46.
Bucknell head coach Frank Fedorjaka had no answer for the hot-shooting Mids, as he used three different goalkeepers to try and solve Navy’s offense.
Anchored by the play of senior goalkeeper John Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.), the Mids were stout in holding an offensive-minded Bucknell team to a season-low six goals. The Bison entered the game averaging 11.75 goals per game, reaching double digits in each of their first four contests. Navy held Bucknell off the scoreboard for the better part of the second half, going 28:26 without a goal. The Bison turned the ball over 15 times, including 11 times in the second half.
Connors was sensational between the pipes where he made a season-high 12 saves, including a doorstep stop on Connor O’Hara’s extra-man shot midway through the opening quarter.
“I know it can sound like a cliche, but we had a great week of practice,” said Connors, who became just the 13th player in program history to make 300 career saves. “The entire team did a lot of shooting this week and so needless to say I saw my fair share of shots leading up to today’s game. I thought Coach Sowell did a good job of handling the situation (loss at Boston University) this week and got us prepared to play today.”
The final piece of the puzzle came together for the Mids in the form of their faceoff game led by two-time All-Patriot League selection Brady Dove (Stevensville, Md). Dove, who entered the game winning just 50 percent of his draws this season, schooled Bucknell freshman Jarett Witzal, who was among the nation’s top specialists with a 67.6 winning percentage. Dove won 15 of the 21 draws he took on the afternoon, while sophomore Joe Varello (Kings Park, N.Y.) was 2 for 2.
The Mids return home next Saturday to play host to Lafayette at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium with faceoff set for 12:00 pm. The game will be streamed live via PatriotLeague.TV and will be carried live on 1430 AM / 99.9 FM WNAV with Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller on the call.
### Go Navy ###