Cardiac Kids Take Down Lafayette in Patriot League Semis
Andy Warner scored four second-half goals to lead the Mids' comeback victory.
April 30, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Anchored by junior attackman Andy Warner's (Corning, N.Y.) career-high four goals, the Navy men's lacrosse team (7-7) used a nine-goal second half to score an 11-9 come-from-behind win over third-seeded Lafayette (8-6) Friday evening in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals held at Army's Michie Stadium. Winners of five of the six previous tournaments, Navy will make its sixth appearance in the Patriot League finals when it battles arch rival Army on Sunday at 3:00 pm.
"Getting by this team was a big deal for us," said Navy head coach Richie Meade, who has directed the Mids to an 11-1 all-time record in the Patriot League Tournament. "The last time we played, Lafayette kicked our butts. They won every phase of the game, including the battle of will and the battle of emotion. Today we started out exactly the same way as we did that night. We had to come a long way to stop it and come back. Our team has this quality to fight. I'm thankful for the win."
Lafayette grabbed the early lead when middie Kevin Dunbar fed All-Patriot League attackman Tom Perini, who threaded his shot past 2010 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) at the 12:29 mark.
The Midshipmen tied things up at the five-minute mark when sophomore attackman Ryan O'Leary (East Meadow, N.Y.) caught leading scorer Patrick Moran (Annapolis, Md.) cutting from the left wing. Moran stuck his five-yarder to push his season goal total to 24.
Lafayette, however, scored the final two goals of the opening quarter, including a wrap-around shot by Matt Mersky with 30.6 seconds remaining to take a 3-1 advantage into the second quarter.
Navy trimmed the lead to one just under four minutes into the second quarter on a crank shot by O'Leary. But less than a minute later, a bouncer by Colin Serling sparked a three-goal run by the Leopards, giving Lafayette a 6-2 lead at the break.
"I told the guys at the half, `there's nothing I can say to you to turn this around, you're going to have to do it yourself,'" said Meade.
"They were outhustling us," said All-Patriot League defenseman Michael Hirsch (Schwenksville, Pa.). "They are a hard-working, scrappy bunch of guys."
"We just didn't come out mentally prepared," added Warner. "We have this thing about starting out slow ... that needs to change for us to be successful."
And it did in the second half. Eerily similar to last week's Johns Hopkins contest, the Mids managed to put together a 5-0 run in the third quarter to get back into the game. The run was led by last week's hero Warner, who scored the game-winner against Hopkins in overtime. Warner scored an extra-man goal, his eighth of the year, at the 13:10 mark and then fired off a 10-yarder just nine seconds later to narrow Lafayette's lead to 6-4.
For the second straight game, the Mids got help from the opposition in the scoring column. Lafayette defenseman Paul Hammer came up with a loose ball and as he was being pressured by the Mids, he turned back towards the goal and threw the ball in the direction of his teammate. In doing so, however, his pass caught the inside of the right post and into the net at the 9:24 mark.
Just over 30 seconds later, Moran found senior attackman Brendan Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) three yards in front of the crease for the game-tying goal. Navy took its first lead of the game at the 7:18 mark when Warner took the extra step on his defender and sent an eight-yard shot high from the left wing.
The Mids held their lead for nearly six minutes before Serling ran in from the right wing untouched and powered in his shot past Wickham.
With the game deadlocked at 7-7 for nearly half of the final period, Navy scored three straight to take the lead for good. Moran got things started with his ninth extra-man goal of the year at the 7:57 mark and that was followed just over a minute later by a power lefty shot from senior middie Joe Lennon (Westminster, Md.). That late goal extended Lennon's scoring streak to 17 straight games, a streak that began with his four-goal output against Colgate in last year's Patriot League semifinals.
Navy capped its run when Warner wrapped around the left side of the cage and poked in his shot over the shoulder of Lafayette keeper Vinny DePasquale. It's the second time this season a Navy player has scored four goals in a game, as Connors produced four scores in the Mids' one-goal loss to Towson.
Lafayette, however, was not done. Refusing to give in, Mersky scored an unassisted goal with 4:02 remaining to cut into the Mids' lead. With under a minute to go in the game, Warner was flagged for a hold. After coming up empty on its previous five extra-man attempts, Mersky fired in a shot from two yards out to get the Leopards to within one, 10-9, with 38 seconds remaining.
Navy's Logan West (Berlin, Md.) won the ensuing faceoff and spread the field. Lafayette pulled its keeper out of the goal in the hopes of forcing a Navy turnover, but instead O'Leary fired in the insurance goal on an open net with 10 seconds to go.
Warner led the way for the Mids with four goals, while Connors and Moran each turned in four-point performances. West took all 24 draws for Navy, winning a career-high 11 while also pacing the Mids with a career-best seven ground balls.
Mersky paced Lafayette with four goals, while Perini and Serling each pitched in two.
Army and Navy will battle for the right to represent the Patriot League in the 2010 NCAA Championship when the two meet on Sunday for the Patriot League title. Navy has won five of the six previously played tournaments (2004-05-06-07-09), while Army has never won the conference tournament since its inception in 2004. Army and Navy, however, have twice faced one another for the conference title. The Mids earned a 15-8 win over the Black Knights in 2005 and in 2006, Navy posted an 8-5 win.
Sunday's game is slated for a 3:00 pm faceoff and will be televised live by CBS College Sports. Fans can also tune in to 1430 WNAV, 1050 WFED or Sirius Satellite Radio (channel to be announced) to hear the Voice of Navy Athletics Pete Medhurst call the action.