Seniors Pave the Way for 12-10 Win Over Colgate
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Honored prior to the start of Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game against Colgate, the Navy seniors made a strong statement in what was their final regular-season appearance at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The 15-member senior class contributed in all facets of a 12-10 victory over the Raiders to stay atop the Patriot League standings at 6-1 where they hold a half-game lead over Bucknell (5-1) and Loyola (5-1).
Navy’s seniors combined for eight of the team’s 12 goals, while contributing a pair of assists. Defensively Michael Strack (North Babylon, N.Y.), Hiram Carter (Apopka, Fla.), DJ Plumer (Stevensville, Md.), David Jones (Annapolis, Md.) and Ray Wardell (Babylon, N.Y.) helped tame the nation’s sixth-ranked scoring offense, while Joe Varello (Kings Park, N.Y.) bested the Patriot League’s top-ranked faceoff specialist.
“The senior leadership has brought us through this season and the seniors are responsible for building our culture,” said Navy junior midfielder Ryan Wade (Coronado, Calif.). “I’m happy we were able to get a win for them on Senior Night.”
“It was nice to get a win on Senior Night and have all of the senior parents out on the field with us prior to the game,” said Strack, who has started each of the last 25 games at close defense for the Mids. “We don’t plan on this being our last game on this field, though. We are planning for more over the next month.”
To have the chance of playing the Patriot League Tournament on their home field, the Mids needed to secure the victory on Saturday. The two teams traded goals over the first 15 minutes with Navy attackman Dave Little (Sr / Vienna, Va.) scoring the first goal of the game when he tucked his shot inside the near post from the right elbow at 10:40.
Colgate answered a little more than a minute later when long pole Parker Baddley scored in transition off a Navy turnover.
The Mids took the lead once again (2-2) when Wade used a face dodge against Colgate middie Danny Healey to get his hands free and score his lone goal of the contest.
The Raiders, however, knotted the game with 21.9 seconds left in the opening period when goalkeeper Connor Mullen gobbled up an Ian Burgoyne (Jr / Darien, Conn.) shot and sent his outlet pass to mid-field where Nicky Petkevich found an open Griffin Brown for the goal.
Colgate took its lone lead of the game less than two minutes into the second quarter when Petkevich found rookie attackman Mike Hawkins who attacked from behind the net and wrapped his way around the right side for a back-handed goal.
Sparked by a Casey Rees (Sr / Baltimore, Md.) goal at the 12:07 mark in the second, Navy went on a 5-0 run and featured goals by four different players to take the lead for good.
Navy held its largest lead (8-4) right before the half when Chris Hill (Sr / Novato, Calif.) found Plumer on a quick start from mid-field and Plumer drilled a 12-yard shot straight up the middle against Mullen.
Colgate went on to trim Navy’s lead to two twice in the third quarter (8-6 and 9-7), but the Mids scored three of the first four goals of the final stanza to push their lead to four (12-8) for a second time in the contest. The Raiders scored two goals in the final 1:12, including a goal at the buzzer, as Colgate dropped into a three-way tie with Army and Boston University for fifth in the league standings.
“Overall, it was a well-played game,” said seventh-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “The first half was probably the best first half we’ve played this year. We got off to a good start, particularly in the second quarter.”
Wade paced the Mids with six points on a goal and a career-high tying five assists, while also joining the Mids’ all-time top-20 assists list with 46 over three seasons. Additionally, he extended his point-scoring streak to 21 straight games, including 18 in a row with an assist.
“We’ve known that Ryan is capable of having games like this,” said Sowell. “He loves to be a feeder and he made some great plays tonight. We want the ball to be in his stick.”
Little, Rees and rookie attackman Christian Daniel (Owings, Md.) each scored a pair of goals, while All-American midfielder Greyson Torain (Jr / Glen Burnie, Md.) scored a goal and dealt out two assists.
The Mids held Colgate under its 13.00 goals per game average and was one second away from holding the Raiders to single digits for just the fourth time this season. Strack and Co. held in check two of the nation’s most potent scorers in 2017 Patriot League Rookie of the Year Griffin Brown and Hawkins, who is certainly in the running to win this year’s rookie award. While both players finished with two goals, they both scored their second goals in the final 1:12 of the game. Hawkins came into Saturday’s contest as the nation’s sixth-leading scorer averaging 3.20 points and 2.60 goals per game. Meanwhile, junior attackman Sam Cleveland, who was held scoreless by the Mids, entered the game averaging 2.80 points and stood 22nd nationally in assists per game (2.10).
In a battle between two of the nation’s best faceoff men, Varello won four of the six draws in the final quarter to help keep the ball in the sticks of Navy’s offensive unit and also sew up the 13-12 advantage at the end of the game. Varello passed the 200-win milestone along the way and moved into 11th on the Mids’ single-season wins list with 121.
“It was a knock down, drag out fight between Varello and Orr, but Joe felt confident going into the game,” said Sowell. “He did a really good job, especially when we needed him to step up.”
The Midshipmen will have a chance to clinch a share of the Patriot League regular-season title next weekend when they travel to West Point, N.Y. to battle Army (5-5, 2-4 Patriot League) in the annual Star Game. The first game of a men’s and women’s doubleheader, the men are scheduled to face off at 12:00 pm from Michie Stadium. CBS Sports Network will televise the contest, while Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller will have the call on 1430 AM / 99.9 FM WNAV.
### Go Navy ###