Feb. 10, 2012
Navy opens up its 105th 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 NOT be available on the radio due to 1430 WNAV's coverage of the annual men's and women's basketball Star Games being played at West Point (women at 12:00 pm, men at 2:30 pm).
Saturday's game will, however, be streamed online via Navy All-Access with live stats available at www.NavySports.com ... this week's All-Access feed will be provided free of charge, however, the remainder of the season will be subscription based.
The Navy-VMI tilt is one of nine games slated for Saturday in what marks the second weekend of action among the Div. I ranks ... Delaware and Detroit officially kicked off the 2012 campaign last Saturday in Newark where the Fightin' Blue Hens topped Detroit, 19-6.
Navy is one of five Patriot League teams in action this weekend ... Army will play host to UMass on Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm, while Delaware travels to Bucknell on Saturday at 1:00 pm, Bryant heads to Colgate on Saturday at 1:00 pm and Lehigh makes its way to Philly to play Saint Joseph's on Saturday at 2:00 pm.
Entering his 13th season as a collegiate head coach, Rick Sowell will officially open the chapter on his Navy coaching career on Saturday. Sowell, who has been involved with rebuilding programs at Georgetown, Dartmouth, St. John's and most recently Stony Brook, owns an 86-81 career record.
Sowell compiled a 47-26 (.644) record in five seasons at Stony Brook and was named the America East Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons as he guided the Seawolves to back-to-back America East regular-season titles (2010-11).
Navy returns eight starters off last year's team, including its entire starting attack line. Sophomores Tucker Hull and Sam Jones led the charge a year ago, mirroring one another's stats. Both players scored a team-high 38 points on a team-best 23 goals and 15 assists. Hull was rewarded for his play by being named the 2011 Patriot League Rookie of the Year and has been named a 2012 Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American. Senior co-captain Taylor Reynolds rounds out the starting attack and is coming off a 10-goal, two-assist season.
Meanwhile, senior Nikk Davis anchors a midfield line that will blend both youth and veteran players. Davis is entering his fourth season as a starter and is coming off 14-goal, 4-assist season. He will be joined by junior Bryce Dabbs and sophomore Pat Durkin. While Dabbs has been in the program, he did not play as a plebe and was ineligible last spring. Durkin played among the Mids' second midfield line a year ago, but will be asked to step up his play this spring as a starter.
Senior Logan West returns as the Mids' faceoff specialist after finishing the 2011 season ranked 29th nationally with his 52.1 winning percentage (110-211). He enters the season ranked sixth on Navy's all-time career faceoff wins list with 175.
Look for juniors Jay Mann and Jordan Seivold to play both ways this spring. Mann, who was a starter on the offensive midfield a year ago and scored 11 goals, will be used primarily as a defensive midfielder, while Seivold will be used heavily on the offensive side of the field, but played mostly defensive midfield his first two seasons at the Academy. The athleticism the two present give the Mids a better opportunity in the transition game.
Navy will rely heavily upon veteran close defenseman Matt Vernam and senior goalkeeper RJ Wickham to manage the defense. Vernam has been a starter since his freshman year, while Wickham, who was a Tewaaraton Trophy nominee in 2010, is in his third season as a starter in goal. Additionally, second-year standout Pat Kiernan will fill the long pole position and has quickly emerged as one of the Mids' most potent defensive weapons. He produced 11 takeaways a year ago and picked up 35 ground balls.
Taking the Field In ...
10 - Navy owns an 88-15-1 all-time record in season openers, including wins in each of its last 10 dating back to a 16-2 win over Saint Joseph's in 2002 ... the Mids have won each of their last four openers against the Keydets.
9 - Senior goalkeeper RJ Wickham needs 17 saves to move into ninth on the Mids' all-time saves list ... he has turned away 338 shots over his career and trails 1990 graduate Louis Brown who amassed 355 saves.
8 - Navy has held VMI to eight or fewer goals in each of his previous four meetings.
7 - Senior faceoff specialist Logan West needs seven wins on Saturday to take sole possession of fifth on Navy's all-time career faceoff wins list ... he has won 175 over three seasons.
6 - Navy will play six games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in 2012 ... the Mids own a 39-16 record (70.9) in games played on their home field since the start of the 2004 campaign, outscoring its foes, 587-392.
5 - Navy has lost just five games (46-5) when scoring 10 or more goals since the start of the 2004 campaign, including a pair last spring.
4 - Four of Navy's 2012 opponents are ranked in the 2012 USILA Coaches Preseason Poll - Johns Hopkins (2), North Carolina (6), Maryland (7), Bucknell (12), while Army and Colgate are receiving votes.
3 - With a 750-308-14 record, Navy is the third-winningest program in Div. I men's lax behind Johns Hopkins (912-294-15) and Syracuse (821-312-16).
2 - The attack duo of Tucker Hull and Sam Jones paced the Mids a year ago with 38 points on 23 goals and 15 assists.
1 - Over the last four seasons, 22 (9-13) of the Mids' 60 contests have been decided by one goal.
Navy vs. VMI - The Series
Meeting in each of the last four years' season openers, Navy holds a 4-0 series advantage against VMI.
The Midshipmen have scored double digits against the Keydets in each of the four previous meetings, while holding VMI to single digits in all four contests.
VMI has held an advantage in the faceoff column in each of the last three meetings, including a slight 14-12 edge a year ago.
Last year, Navy's rookie class accounted for eight goals, including four by attackman Sam Jones, en route to capturing a 14-8 victory over the Keydets. After giving up six goal in the first half, Navy's defense surrendered just two second-half goals to the Keydets.
In 2010, Eleventh-ranked Navy jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back as the Mids claimed a 16-5 win over VMI at Rip Miller Field in what was both teams' season opener. A strong offensive display that featured goals by 11 different Midshipmen, helped Navy weather a rare pair of three-minute stick penalties.
The Midshipmen outscored VMI 8-0 in the second half, surviving a first-half scare to earn a 13-5 victory over the Keydets at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in 2009. Deadlocked at five apiece at the half, Navy peppered VMI with 30 second-half shots while its stifling defense gave the Keydets just five looks at the goal over the final 30 minutes.
In the inaugural meeting in 2008, the Mids' balanced offensive attack featured eight different players scoring 10 goals en route to a 10-2 win.
2011 Navy-VMI Recap
Navy attackman Sam Jones made his debut in front of his hometown crowd a memorable one, scoring a team-high four goals to lead Navy to a 14-8 victory over VMI in both teams' opener at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Jones, however, wasn't the only Navy rookie to have a successful collegiate opener. Fellow starting attackman Tucker Hull scored one goal and dealt out assists on three others, while Ellicott City product Harrison Chaires turned in a goal and an assist and Austin Heneveld pumped an extra-man strike late in the third. In sum, Navy's rookie class accounted for 12 points with eight goals and four assists.
The Mids also saw midfielder Nikk Davis score a pair of goals, while a relatively unknown Taylor Reynolds got the opportunity he's long waited for at attack and capitalized. Not only did Reynolds score his first-collegiate goal, he also produced his first-career hat trick in what was his first-career start.
While Navy's offense seemed to be a well-oiled machine, it seemed to take a quarter of play before the Mids were truly settled on both sides of the field. In fact, after the first quarter of play, the game was locked up at 4-4 and two of Navy's goals were scored on extra man.
Navy, indeed, was the dominant team in the second stanza, outscoring the Keydets 6-2 to take a 10-6 at intermission. It was during that quarter that Navy's attack was nearly unstoppable, scoring all six goals. Jones, in particular, was stellar, scoring three goals in the period, including a goal where he was falling down and was surrounded by three defensive players.
The Mids cooled off in the second half, scoring just four goals, but the damage had been done. Additionally, Navy's defense held its ground and kept the Keydets off the scoreboard for roughly 15 minutes, giving up a goal at the 2:23 mark in the second and not again until 2:07 in the third.
Defensively, Peter Rogers made his debut where he paced the Mids with four caused turnovers and grabbed three ground balls. Pat Kiernan was also strong in his collegiate debut, pacing the Mids in ground balls with six and causing three turnovers.
Navy Vs. the MAAC
The Mids are undefeated against the seven-member Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, producing a 6-0 record.
Navy's contest against VMI on Saturday marks the eighth-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.
In 2005, Navy faced Providence who is now a member of the newly-formed Big East, while in 2006 and `07 the Mids battled Saint Joseph's who has moved to the Colonial Athletic Association.
Navy owns an 88-15-1 record in season openers, including wins in each of its last 10 dating back to a 16-2 win over Saint Joseph's in 2002 ... the Mids have outscored their foes 126-31 (12.6-3.1) during that stretch of 10 wins.
For the fifth straight year and the sixth time in the last nine seasons, the Mids will open their season at home ... the Mids played their 2004, `05 and `06 openers on the road.
In 2007, Navy defeated Saint Joseph's, 10-3, in Annapolis to kick off the season with an eight-game winning streak, while in `08, the Mids turned back VMI, 10-2, in what was the inaugural meeting between the two programs. In 2009, Navy claimed a 13-5 win on Feb. 7 in what was then the earliest game played in Div. I history and in 2010, the Mids picked up a 16-5 win over VMI. A year ago, the Mids used a six-goal second quarter to catapult ahead of the Keydets en route to a 14-8 victory.
The New Coaches on the Block
Among the 61 Div. I men's lacrosse teams that will take the field this season, 15 of them will have new head coaches.
Of the 15 new coaches, five are coming from previous head coaching posts including Navy's Rick Sowell who was the head coach at Stony Brook the previous five seasons.
Three of the 15 new coaches are at schools who play in the Patriot League. In addition to Sowell, former Army assistant coach Mike Murphy took over the coaching reigns from Jim Nagle at Colgate who ironically left to replace Sowell at Stony Brook. After serving as the interim head coach for half of the 2011 campaign, Holy Cross kept Jim Morrisey on board as its permanent head coach, replacing Adam Pascal.
Rick Sowell is the eighth different man to hold the title of head men's lacrosse coach at Navy in its 105-year history.
Five of the seven previous coaches won their debut game at the Academy, including each of the last five.
The tandem of Frank Breyer and Bill Hudgins started the Navy lacrosse program in 1908 and lost to Johns Hopkins, 6-1, in the school's first contest.