Navy’s Season Ends with Patriot League Tournament Loss to Holy Cross
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Despite a second-half rally by the fourth-seeded Navy men’s lacrosse team (6-8, 4-4 Patriot League), the Mids’ season came to a close Tuesday evening with an 11-7 loss to fifth-seeded Holy Cross (5-9, 4-4 PL) in the Patriot League Quarterfinals.
“I have to tip my hat off to Holy Cross,” said sixth-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “They came in and played a great game. I thought we were more than ready to go, but that first half we just couldn’t get anything going.
“It’s a tough, tough loss. A week-and-a-half ago we played a gritty performance against our archrivals and to lose a week-and-a-half later is tough.”
The Midshipmen were held scoreless for the first 25-plus minutes of action all the while Holy Cross built a 3-0 lead on goals by All-Patriot League midfielder Kevin Lux, Logan LeBlond and Sean Kirkpatrick.
Navy scored its first goal of the game and the final goal of the opening half by either team at the 4:16 mark when attackman Dave Little (Jr / Vienna, Va.) utilized a wrap check to dislodge the ball from his Holy Cross foe’s stick and parking a transition goal by the Mids. Credit short-stick defensive midfielder John Trainor (Sr / Northport, N.Y.) with the hockey assist as he found Matt Rees (Sr / Sykesville, Md.) who subsequently passed off to Little for the 15-yard stick.
After trading goals over the first seven minutes of the second half, Navy put together back-to-back goals just 24 seconds apart to draw within one (5-4). Attackman Ryan Wade (So / Coronado, Calif.) fought through a double team from five yards out to target one of his three shots on the evening. On the ensuing faceoff Little and Rees worked together once again as Little rippled the back of the net from 15 yards out despite getting drilled following his release.
Holy Cross had the final say of the quarter, however, as Kirkpatrick scored off what appeared to be a moving screen a yard outside of the crease off a Lux assist and gave the Crusaders a two-goal advantage heading into the final stanza.
First-Team All-Patriot League midfielder Greyson Torain (So / Glen Burnie, Md.) helped trim the deficit to one (6-5, 12:50) when he drew pole Rich Palazzese out of the middle and Torain won the foot race from a lefty goal from 10 yards out.
Holy Cross went on a 4-0 run over a three-and-a-half minute span that featured a pair of extra-man goals by Kirkpatrick and stretched its lead to five (10-5), its largest of the evening.
The Mids, however, continued to fight as Little and Rees teamed up for the third time in the game and attackman Jack Ray (Jr / Wyckoff, N.J.) scored his lone tally of the game to get within three (10-7) with 4:27 to go in the game.
Holy Cross would score the final tally of the game with a Sean Mullaney goal at the 3:10 mark to earn the program’s first Patriot League Tournament win in what was just its second appearnce.
One of the most glaring stats of the game was Navy’s 22 turnovers in comparison to its 30 shots.
“We’ve been turning the ball over since the first game of the season,” added Sowell, whose Mids came into the game ranked 63rd nationally (out of 69) averaging 16.00 turnovers per game. “It’s been frustrating for all of us. It’s been a year-long battle. It’s a mystery why we couldn’t take better care of the ball.”
Little led the way for the Mids with his third career hat trick, while Torain pitched in a pair of goals and an assist. Torain closed out the year with 38 points on 23 goals and 15 assists, tying as the fourth-best scoring mark by a midfielder in the program’s 110-year history. Three-time All-Patriot League pole Matt Rees, who came into the game with only one assist over his four seasons, finished the game with three of Navy’s six assists.
Rees, one of nine Navy seniors who all stepped onto the field for a final time together, turned in three caused turnovers and graduates as Navy’s all-time leader with 84. His 29 takeaways this season go down as the third most in school history for a single season and the most since Austin Miller posted 30 in 2013. Thanks to his six ground balls against the Crusaders, Rees moved from eighth to sixth on the Mids’ career ground balls leader board with 186. Rees also graduates as Navy’s top-scoring defenseman (close defense / long-stick midfield) with 19 points on 15 goals and four assists.
Three-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and co-captain Chris Fennell (Sr / Milford, N.J.) caused a pair of Holy Cross turnovers and closes out his career third on Navy’s all-time list with 67.
Four-time All-Patriot League faceoff specialist Brady Dove (Sr / Stevensville, Md.) won 11 of the 18 draws he took against Holy Cross and collected a team-high nine ground balls. He finishes his career as the Mids all-time leader in faceoff wins with 637, while the mark stands third best in Patriot League history. With 169 faceoff wins this season, he fell just four short of tying the Navy single-season record set by Chris Pieczonka in 2004. Dove, meanwhile, owns the second, third, fourth and seventh-best single-season marks in program history. Already Navy’s all-time leader in ground balls with 348, he successfully broke the Mids’ single-season record in his final appearance with an even 100. Pieczonka previously held the record with 93 ground balls in 2004.
Lux led the Crusaders with six points on two goals and four assists, while Kirkpatrick turned in five points on four goals and an assist.
### Go Navy ###