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Mids Score Final Seven Goals to Beat Army in Star Game

April 15, 2017

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A crowd of 12,705 gathered at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday to watch one of the most storied rivalries in college sports - the 98th edition of Army-Navy men’s lacrosse.   Navy (6-7, 4-4 Patriot League) went on a 7-0 run over the final 16 minutes of the game to overcome a three-goal deficit and defeat #8 Army West Point (10-2, 6-1 PL), 10-6.  The Mids also clinched the Army-Navy Star Series presented by USAA for the 19th time in the last 21 years.

It marked the 2nd-largest crowd to see an Army-Navy game.

“This was a great win for a team who has dealt with a lot of adversity throughout the year,” said sixth-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell, who has led the Mids to three straight Star Game victories.  “We’re not the first and not the last to face some adversity, but I’m proud of the way the team has responded.  We’ve been down at times, but the guys have stayed the course.  To get a win for the seniors, for them to go 3-0 in their last three Star Games is great.”

Navy jumped out to a 2-0 lead as attackman Dave Little (Jr / Vienna, Va.) utilized to a Ryan Wade (So / Coronado, Calif.) pass to ripple the back of the net and put the Mids on the scoreboard four-and-a-half minutes into the contest.  Second-year starting midfielder Greyson Torain (Glen Burnie, Md.) tacked on a goal in somewhat of an unsettled situation after confusion mounted over whether Jack Ray’s (Jr / Wyckoff, N.J.) shot with the timer-on was actually a shot or a pass.  The officials deemed it a shot and Army scrambled to get its defensive players back on the field as Torain punched in the unassisted goal.

The Mids held the Black Knights off the scoreboard until the eight-minute mark in the second quarter, when sophomore attackman Nate Jones sent his shot past Navy keeper Ryan Kern’s ankles from the left elbow.  On the ensuing faceoff, Army defensive middie Anthony George picked up the ground ball and passed back to faceoff specialist Dan Grabher who knotted the game with his sixth goal of the season.

Navy took a 3-2 lead four minutes later when attackman Chris Hill (Jr / Novato, Calif.), making his first appearance in the series, wrapped around the cage and scored his 17th goal this season and first against the Black Knight.

Army answered 43 seconds later, however, when junior Conor Glancy was Johnny-on-the-spot, picking up the ground ball off a shot that sailed over the goal and feeding junior middie Ted Glesener for a 15-yard goal straight up the middle.

The Mids looked to get the final shot of the half following an Army turnover, but Navy failed to convert after an errant pass on its offensive end of the field.  Army quickly got the ball to mid-field where junior midfielder David Symmes threaded his pass to Jones who was being smothered by Navy defenseman Michael Strack (Jr / North Babylon, N.Y.) at the crease and Jones batted it in for the go-ahead goal with just 1.9 seconds left in the half.

Army scored back-to-back goals to open play in the third quarter, unassisted strikes by Symmes and All-Patriot League attackman Cole Johnson, to give the Black Knights a 6-3 advantage with 3:32 to play in the game.  

The Johnson goal, however, would be Army’s final goal of the game, as the Mids’ defense clamped down and held the Black Knights without a goal for the final 18:32.

Navy’s offense, meanwhile, began to whittle away at Army’s lead, scoring a pair of goals in 10 seconds.  Torain got an assist from Army goalkeeper AJ Barretto as Torain’s shot ricocheted off Barretto’s stick and into the goal with 1:11 left in the third quarter.  Navy’s Brady Dove, who played a pivotal role in Navy’s second-half comeback, won the ensuing faceoff and won a foot race down the right alleyway and sent his left-handed shot past Barretto for his fifth career goal and first this season to get the Mids to within one at the break.

The Mids tied the game less than a minute into the final stanza when Ray was left uncovered at the crease and Little found him for the door-step goal.  Nearly six minutes later (8:20), Kern made one of his 10 fourth-quarter saves that sparked a transition goal that saw senior defenseman Chris Fennell (Milford, N.J.) feed Little for the game-winning goal.

Navy went on to score three more times, including a pair by Wade, to lead the Mids to their third consecutive Star Game victory.

The Mids were able to beat the nation’s second-ranked defense (allowing 5.09 goals/gm) by spreading their offense out amongst seven goal-scorers including a pair by Little, Torain and Wade, while Wade also dealt out a pair of assists to lead Navy in scoring with four points.

The defense as a unit was spectacular throughout the day, holding the Black Knights to droughts of 22 and 18-plus minutes at the beginning and end of the game, respectively.  The Mids held Army to a season-low (tied) six goals after the Black Knights came into the game ranked #13 nationally averaging 12 goals per game.  

“I have a ton of respect for Coach Alberici,” said Navy co-captain Chris Fennell.  “Their defense is well coached and disciplined, but to be quite honest stats don’t matter in this game.  The last few years the game has been decided in the fourth quarter.”

Kern played a big part in Navy’s stout defensive effort, recording a career-high 17 saves.  After turning aside just three Army shots in the opening half, Kern came back to make 14 second half stops, including 10 saves on 15 shots in the final quarter.

“I told him this week I needed him to get double digit saves and he came through for us,” added “Sowell.  “To see him have this type of performance, well, it’s a special memory he’ll never forget.”

“Everybody on the team had an indomitable will to win today,” said Kern.

Navy also forced five of Army’s eight turnovers and featured a pair of takeaways by Steve Hincks (Jr / Edgewater, Md.) who made his Army-Navy debut.

One of the marquee matchups of the day featured third-ranked Dove against fourth-ranked Grabher at the faceoff “x”.  Grabher got the best of Dove in the opening half, taking five of the eight draws (Joe Varello took one of the eight for Navy), but Dove came back to win eight of the 11 in the second half and put the ball in the sticks of Navy’s offense.  Dove has won 158 of his 236 draws this season, tying for the third most wins in a Navy single season, trailing record holder Chris Pieczonka’s 2004 mark of 173.  He also set the mark for most wins by a member out of the senior class and will graduate having set the freshman, sophomore and senior class marks.

“We made an adjustment that worked at the half ... but I’m not so sure it wasn’t more of desire,” said Sowell regarding Dove’s success in the second half.  “The goal he scored to get us to within one was huge, as well.  Brady has had a great career here and winning the faceoff battle was a big part of us winning the game.”

The victory assured Navy a spot in the six-team Patriot League Tournament slated to begin a week from Tuesday, April 25 with a pair of quarterfinal games that will feature the three through six seeds.  The 4-4 Mids have a bye next week and will await the final results of games played on Friday to find who and where they will play in the quarters.

Patriot League Standings
6-1  Army
5-2  Loyola
4-3  Boston U.
4-3  Holy Cross
4-4  Navy
3-4  Bucknell
3-4  Lehigh
2-5  Colgate
1-6  Lafayette

Next Friday’s games (all at 7:00 pm)
Lafayette at Colgate
Holy Cross at Boston U.
Loyola at Army
Bucknell at Lehigh

### Go Navy ###



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