ANNAPOLIS, Md. --The Navy men's lacrosse team (3-4) scored the game's final six goals while the defense held Towson (1-4) scoreless over the last 18 minutes of play to earn a 14-11 victory over the Tigers Tuesday evening at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
"This was a very rough, very tough game," said Navy head coach Richie Meade. "I was impressed with how we came back and continued to fight. Sometimes it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel wen you lose close games, but this team has come together and found a way to dig out of the hole."
Both teams utilized extended runs throughout the game, as momentum shifted from one sideline to the other. Towson opened up a 3-0 lead with under five minutes to go in the opening frame, before the Mids heated up and poked in a pair of goals, including a beautiful lefty shot from freshman Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) on the right wing with under 40 seconds to play.
The Mids knotted the game at 3-3 when junior attackman Taylor Reynolds (Babylon, N.Y.) used his speed to wrap around the left side of the cage and fire off a rocket to the right post. Not only did the shot come hard an fast out of Reynolds' stick, he had almost no angle as was witnessed by keeper Travis Love who never budged. Reynolds, who finished the game with a pair of goals, had not registered a goal for the Mids since the North Carolina game on Feb. 25.
The two teams would trade goals over the next two minutes before Towson would once again mount a run that featured sophomore attackman Matt Hughes scoring the first of his game-high three goals.
Trailing 7-4 with five minutes remaining in the opening half, the Mids, much like the Bucknell game, rallied and scored three goals in the final three minutes including two in the final minute. Sophomore middie Jay Mann (Cockeysville, Md.) stuck his five-yard shot in at the three-minute mark, followed by a well-executed extra-man goal by Jones on the crease with 51.8 seconds left. Navy evened the score at seven-all when senior midfielder Andy Warner (Corning, N.Y.) found rookie attackman Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.) open just behind the plane of the goal and Hull turned his shoulder and sent his ankle-biter in with just 1.7 seconds before intermission. Warner was credited with assists on all three goals just before the half.
Scoring its fourth-consecutive goal, Navy struck first in the second half as Warner sent his pass across the field to junior midfielder Nikk Davis (Cockeysville, Md.) who then found Hull for the goal at 13:46.
Navy's lead, however, would be short-lived, as an extra-man goal by senior attackman Tommy Beach at the 9:36 mark triggered a four-goal run by the Tigers. Hughes would score two of the four goals, including the last in the run that had Navy's coaching staff bewildered. Junior midfielder Carl Iacona was clearly offside, so obvious, in fact, that Iacona dropped the ball because he thought the official had whistled him for the infraction. Once the madness subdued, Iacona wisely snatched the ball up and took off for the goal. Chased down around the crease, he made a diving pass to Hughes, who curled around the left side of the net and sent his shot past Navy junior keeper RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.).
With 3:04 remaining in the third quarter, Towson held an 1-8 advantage. Remarkably, it would be the Tigers' final goal of the game.
Meanwhile, after being held scoreless for better than 12 minutes, Navy finally got on the scoreboard when freshman Harrison Chaires' (Ellicott City, Md.) shot on extra-man bounced off the keeper's stick and over his head for the goal.
While Chaires' goal certainly pushed the momentum in the Mids' favor, Navy went on to score three goals in three minutes to start the final quarter, including a goal by Warner with 10:06 to play that put the lead back in Navy's hands. Meanwhile the goal just 32 seconds prior to Warner's was a high-to-low beauty that hugged the left post by senior midfielder Kevin Doyle (Towson, Md.) who notched his first goal of the season.
Navy extended its lead with an unassisted goal by Mann with 3:55 remaining and Warner put the game out of reach when he broke free from a double-team that included the goalkeeper, and punched in his second goal of the evening on an open goal.
Warner led all players with a career-high eight points on two goals and six assists. He is the first Navy player to register eight points in a game since Jon Birsner dealt out eight assists against Colgate on March 19, 2005. Meanwhile, the six assists by Warner are the most by a Navy player since Birsner produced six helpers against Holy Cross on March 26, 2006.
Warner also extended his point streak to 19-consecutive games which is tied as the nation's 17th longest.
"Andy adds so much being out in front of the goal," said Meade.
Eight different players scored the Mids' 14 goals, including six players who turned in a pair. Jones has now scored a goal in all seven games, while Hull has posted an assist in every contest.
Over the last two games, Navy's offense has been spectacular, scoring 29 goals against Lafayette (15-6) and Towosn (14-11) combined. It's the most goals scored in back-to-back games by the Mids since Navy defeated Lehigh, 14-3, and Holy Cross, 16-3, in back-to-back contests in 2008. Averaging 11.4 goals per game to date, this offense is the most potent since the 2004 squad finished the year with a 12.3 scoring average.
While Navy's offense continues to shine, so, too does faceoff specialist Logan West (Berlin, Md.), who finished the contest just one win shy of tying the school's all-time single-game record. West won 19 of the 29 draws and picked up eight ground balls along the way. Over the last three games, he has won 46 of the 71 faceoffs (64.8) he has taken and in the last two contests he has won 67.3 percent (35-52) of the draws.
"Tonight's success is really the same as the last game, chalk it up to phenomenal wing play," said West, who is ranked 11th on Navy's all-time faceoff wins list with 131. "You've seen the turnaround over the last few games and I really have my wing guys to thank."
The Mids, who played four of their first five games of the season on the road, will travel to Worcester, Mass. for a 12:00 pm contest on Saturday against Patriot League foe Holy Cross. Due to WNAV's coverage of Navy's NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament contest against DePaul on Saturday at 1:30 pm, the Navy-Holy Cross lacrosse game will not be aired. However, Holy Cross is providing a free audio stream via its web site at www.goholycross.com(.)