Navy To Open 2014 Lacrosse Season Saturday Vs. VMI
Feb. 7, 2014
Navy opens up its 107th season of men's lacrosse on Saturday afternoon when it plays host to VMI ... action is set for 12:00 pm at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Saturday's contest will be carried live by 1430 AM / 99.9 FM WNAV with Joe Miller handling the call ... coverage begins with the Navy lacrosse pregame show at 11:45 am ... the game will also be streamed online for FREE via PatriotLeague.TV and NavySports.com. Live stats will also be available at NavySports.com.
The Navy-VMI tilt is one of 12 games slated for Saturday in what marks the second weekend of action among the Div. I ranks ... Delaware captured a 10-3 victory over High Point last Saturday, while Lehigh scored a 13-6 win over Furman to officially kick off the season.
Entering his 15th season as a collegiate head coach, Rick Sowell is in his third season leading the Midshipmen. He directed Navy to a 6-6 record in his inaugural season which featured a 12-11 upset on the road against #12 Colgate and an 8-2 rout over sixth-ranked Johns Hopkins in Annapolis. Meanwhile, last year Navy produced a 3-10 record that featured three one-goal losses.
Navy returns six starters off last year's team, including its top three scorers, senior attack men Tucker Hull and Sam Jones and junior midfielder Gabe Voumard. Jones paced the team with 33 points on 21 goals and 12 assists, while Hull chipped in 21 points on 13 goals and 8 assists. Voumard anchored the midfield with 20 points on 15 goals and 5 assists.
Also returning to the lineup are second-year attack T.J. Hanzsche and senior midfielder Pat Durkin. Durkin scored 11 goals and 2 assists, while Hanzsche started eight of the 10 games in which he played and finished with 10 goals and 1 assist.
Preseason All-American Pat Kiernan returns for his senior season as one of the nation's best long stick midfielders. A year ago he led the Mids in ground balls with 68 and was second in caused turnovers with 26. He ranked 12th nationally in caused turnovers (2.00) and 32nd in ground balls (5.23).
Navy's defense will no doubt have a new look this season. Senior Nik Mullen, who contributed 13 caused turnovers and 22 ground balls last year returns, however, he will be joined by freshmen Chris Fennell and Matt Rees. Sophomore Jules Godino has been slowed by an injury, but is expected to return to the playing field this season.
Taking over the goalkeeping duties this year is sophomore John Connors who saw a combined 52 minutes in five games a year ago. He owned a 6.92 goals against average and a 60.0 save percentage.
Also new to the lineup is rookie faceoff specialist Brady Dove, who hails from nearby Stevensville. Dove has been solid in the Mids' two scrimmages to date, but he will be supported by sophomores Sean Reilly and Pat Menezes, along with Kiernan.
Scouting the Keydets
VMI head coach Brian Anken enters his fourth season hoping a more home-friendly schedule will help an exceptionally young program. After playing just four home games a year ago that did not see VMI play at home until the seventh game of the season, the Keydets have seven games slated to be played at home this spring. In fact, four of their first six games are at home.
The Keydets, who posted a 1-12 record a year ago, return six of their 10 starters, however four of their top six scorers. Junior attack Mike DeBlasio, who scored 12 goals and dealt out 5 assists is the team's top returning scorer, while second-year midfielder Gage Snowbarger returns after netting 10 goals and adding three assists.
VMI will have a new player in goal this spring after Matt Lindemann graduated with a 14.54 goals against average and a 51.6 save percentage. Senior Evan Windisch is the only upperclass goalkeeper on the roster and he saw action in a pair of games a year ago.
Traditionally a strong faceoff unit, VMI's top two faceoff men from a year ago are gone, leaving Pat Hine who took just 23 of the 329 draws last spring.
2013 Navy-VMI Recap
Erik Hoffstadt and Sam Jones scored hat tricks, while then-attack Austin Heneveld produced a career-high six-point effort to lead Navy to a 20-7 victory over VMI in both teams' season opener at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Twelve different players scored goals for Navy, including five first-time goal scorers in what marked the Mids' largest scoring output since dealing Holy Cross a 23-4 loss on April 18, 2004. Meanwhile the 13-goal win was Navy's largest margin of victory since beating Holy Cross 16-3 on March 15, 2008.
Navy jumped out to a 4-0 lead with goals by four different players, including Jones who scored the game's first goal and his first of three goals on the day at the 11:10 mark.
The Mids surrendered their first goal of the game with 55.5 seconds left when attack Bernie Mowbray set up behind the goal and found rookie attack Alex Henthorn cutting and he punched it in from seven yards out.
Navy, though, would score the next seven goals to take an 11-1 lead going into the half. Among those goals, Jones would secure his hat trick with a pair including a shot that had absolutely no angle from the left wing with 3:47 left in the half. Jones now has 12 goals and five assists in the three games that he has played against VMI.
The Mids opened up the second half much like they left off, scoring three in a row, including a sensational transition goal by defensive middie Cade Norris off one of a career-high four assists by Heneveld.
Riding a 14-1 advantage with roughly eight minutes to play in the third quarter, head coach Rick Sowell began substituting freely on both ends of the field. By game's end, he played 47 of the 52 players on the roster (five players were not dressed due to injury), including all three goalkeepers.
Meanwhile, Navy was hoping to improve in the faceoff department and found some success in newcomer Sean Reilly. Reilly won 13 of the 18 draws he took, while senior Evan McGoogan who started the game was 3-for-6.
Navy's defense was stout, giving up just one goal in the first 37-plus minutes of action, including keeping the Keydets off the scoreboard the entire second period and half of the third. Seniors Austin Miller and Jay Christopher were joined by freshman Jules Godino in the starting lineup with Godino producing two of the Mids' 13 caused turnovers. Junior long pole Pat Kiernan also caused a pair of turnovers and paced the Mids with six ground balls on the afternoon.
Navy vs. VMI - The Series
Having met one another in the season opener in each of the last six seasons, Navy holds a 6-0 series advantage against VMI. All six games have been played in Annapolis.
The Midshipmen have scored double digits against the Keydets in each of the six previous meetings, while holding VMI to single digits in all six contests.
VMI has held an advantage in the faceoff column in four of the last five meetings ... after winning just 10 of 25 two years ago, Navy won the battle at the "x" last spring, 17-13.
Navy Vs. the Atlantic Sun
The Mids own a 6-1 record (85.7) against the six-member Atlantic Sun, a newly-formed conference that includes start-up programs Furman and Richmond. Navy's lone loss against an Atlantic Sun foe was a 13-7 setback to Jacksonville in 2012.
Navy's contest against VMI on Saturday marks the 10th straight season the Mids have faced a team either currently in the MAAC or had previously been part of the MAAC at the time of the contest. The Mids and Keydets have battled one another in the season opener in each of the last five years, this being the sixth.
In 2005, Navy faced Providence who is now a member of the Big East, while in 2006 and `07 the Mids battled Saint Joseph's who is now part of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Navy owns an 89-15-1 record in season openers, including wins in each of its last 12 dating back to a 16-2 win over Saint Joseph's in 2002 ... the Mids have outscored their foes 160-45 (13.3-3.8) during that stretch of 12 wins.
The Mids have played 10 of their last 14 openers at home, including each of the last seven ... Navy played its 2004, `05 and `06 openers on the road.
Last year, Navy's Erik Hoffstadt and Sam Jones produced hat tricks, while Austin Heneveld turned in a career-best six-point performance on two goals and four assists in a 20-7 win over VMI.
Fallen Hero Not Forgotten
For the fourth consecutive year, Navy will honor the memory of fallen Navy SEAL and former Navy lacrosse player Lt. Brendan Looney (`04), who was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 21, 2010.
Marty Gallagher wore the No. 40 jersey as Navy's team captain in 2011.
In each of the last three years, Navy's players voted who among his teammates best represented what Looney stood for as a man, a warrior and a teammate.
Senior co-captain Pat Kiernan has been selected by his peers to honor Looney by wearing jersey No. 40 this spring.