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Mids Post 9-8 Win Over Army, Secure Share of Patriot League Regular-Season Crown

Junior Drew Smiley gave Navy a 9-6 advantage two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Junior Drew Smiley gave Navy a 9-6 advantage two minutes into the fourth quarter.
April 14, 2018

Final Stats

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Senior attackman Chris Hill (Novato, Calif.) and junior midfielder Ryan Wade (Coronado, Calif.) combined to score five goals, while Navy's defense weathered a late charge by the Black Knights to earn a 9-8 victory over arch rival Army (5-6, 2-5 Patriot League) in the annual men's lacrosse Star Game Saturday afternoon at Michie Stadium.  The announced crowd was 15,033, the second-largest crowd to watch an Army-Navy men's lacrosse game at one of the participating institutions.

The victory secured a share of the Patriot League regular-season title for the Mids (8-4, 7-1 PL) and assures them of an opening-round bye in the Patriot League Tournament in two weeks. It also marked Navy's fourth straight win in the Star Game, making the Class of 2018 the first class to go 4-0 in Star Games since the Class of 2007.

"Our energy was there throughout the course of the week, but my main concern was to channel that energy and help make sure the players controlled their emotions," said seventh-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell, who has led Navy to a share of the Patriot League regular-season title in three of the last four years. I thought the guys did a good job of it.

"It was a nip and tuck game, but thankfully we had one more goal on the scoreboard when the final buzzer sounded."

Army got on the scoreboard first when junior attackman Nate Jones used a Connor DeWitt pass to go high to high against Navy keeper Ryan Kern (So / Middletown, Del.) just under five minutes into the contest.

Navy answered at the 6:47 mark when All-American midfielder Greyson Torain (Jr / Glen Burnie, Md.) won a foot race and fired off a 15-yard shot.

Even at 1-1 after the opening period, Navy took its first lead of the game at 13:11 in the second when senior attackmen Dave Little (Vienna, Va.) and Jack Ray (Wyckoff, N.J.) connected on an extra-man goal. It was just the fifth extra-man goal of the season for the Mids and the first time a player not named Christian Daniel (Owings, Md.) scored a man up for Navy.

Army, meanwhile, locked the game up at 2-2 at the 10:14 mark when senior Conor Glancy threaded his pass from the left side of the crease to the right for a wide-open Sean O'Brien who scored the goal.  The Black Knights won the ensuing faceoff and Navy failed to pick up draw specialist John Ragno, who bounced in his first goal of the season to give Army the go-ahead goal at 3-2.

The two teams went on to trade goals over the final 7:18 of the first half which featured two goals scored in the final seven seconds.  Army looked as though it would take a 5-4 lead into the break when senior middie Matthew Donovan targeted his ankle-biter with 6.8 seconds left.  Navy faceoff man Joe Varello (Kings Park, N.Y.) came up with a big faceoff win and found rookie long-stick midfielder Jeff Durden (Cumming, Ga.) who beat the buzzer with his bounce shot to knot the game, 5-5, at the half.

The Mids had the hot hand coming out of the break, as Wade scored back-to-back goals to give Navy a 7-5 lead midway through the third quarter.  It was the first time either team held more than a one-goal advantage in the game.  

Army trimmed the Mids' lead to one when sophomore middie Matt Manown slipped his way out of double coverage and scored on a three-yard shot.

Navy opened the fourth quarter by once again stringing together back-to-back goals to take its biggest lead of the game at 9-6.  Hill used a face dodge to turn his defender and slip inside for a doorstep goal, while just 1:06 later reserve Drew Smiley (Jr / Shrewsbury, Mass.) scored his second goal of the season when he wrapped around the right side of the cage and sent his shot past Army keeper AJ Barretto.

With nearly 13 minutes remaining in the quarter, Army began to whittle away at Navy's lead.  Jones scored on a 15-yard shot at the 10:07 mark, before drawing the Black Knights to within one at 9-8 with his third goal of the game off a Matthew Donovan assist at the 6:19 mark.

Navy would get off just one shot over the final six minutes, while the Black Knights, who outshot the Mids 27-10 in the second half, had seven shots.  Among those seven shots, Kern would face a flurry of three shots in the final 13 seconds.  Glancy's shot steered wide at 0:13, while Kern warded off O'Brien's shot before it caromed off his stick with 0:04 left and Clancy narrowly missed as his shot sailed just wide of the right post as time expired.

With Navy's leading scorer Christian Daniel unable to play due to injury, Hill stepped into the starting lineup where he recorded just his second career hat trick with three goals on five shots.  His other two shots were turn aside by Barretto.  

"Chris is really an unsung, unheralded player on this team who has had a great senior year," aid Sowell.  "He stepped up in the absence of Christian.  I am so happy for him. Additionally, I was happy with the way Drew Smiley came in and gave us a lift."

Meanwhile, Wade extended his point-scoring streak to 22 games and his assist streak to 19 games thanks to a pair of goals and an assist. Wade also takes over the scoring lead for the Mids with 30 points on 8 goals and 22 assists and is the third different Navy midfielder to post 30 points in the last three seasons (37 by Casey Rees in 2016, 38 by Greyson Torain in 2017).

Six different players produced points for the Mids which cracked the nation's second-ranked defense that came into the game holding teams to 7.10 goals per game.

Defensively, the Mids recorded six caused turnovers, including two apiece by senior short-stick midfielders DJ Plumer (Stevensville, Md.) and David Jones (Annapolis, Md.).  Meanwhile, Kern finished the game with nine saves between the pipes, including seven in the second half.

After struggling in the early stages of the game, Varello found his comfort zone, winning 11 of the last 17 draws including 6 of 9 in the second half.

"The faceoffs were huge for us today," added Sowell.  "It was particularly huge for us in the second half and allowed us to score a few goals and get some breathing room.  It certainly allowed us to hang on."

Jones led Army with three goals, while five other players accounted for the remaining five.  Barretto managed just four saves in goal for the Black Knights, none over the final 30-plus minutes.

The Midshipmen will step out of conference to play their regular-season finale next weekend when they travel to Syracuse to play the Orange. Meeting for the first time since the 2004 NCAA Championship Game, the two teams will face off at The Dome beginning at 2:00 pm.  ACC Network Extra will live stream the contest, while Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller will have the call on 1430 AM / 99.9 FM WNAV.

"We accomplished a number of goals today, including the senior class going 4-0 against Army in Star Games and clinching a share of the Patriot League regular-season championship," said Sowell.  "We are taking a game at a time and looking forward to the trip to Syracuse next weekend."

### Go Navy ###

 

 

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