WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the second time this week, the Navy men’s lacrosse team was stung by a one-goal loss, this time a 9-8 overtime decision against long-time rival Georgetown on Sunday afternoon at Multi-Sport Field in Washington, D.C. The Mids dropped a 10-9 decision against 15th-ranked Fairfield on Tuesday following a Sam Snow goal with just 4.1 seconds left in the contest.
“It’s another tough loss for us,” said Navy head coach Rick Sowell, who spent nine seasons (1990-98) as an assistant coach at Georgetown. “Defensively we were doing a great job and we started off sharp on offense, but then it just sputtered. But I think it all cirlces back to turnovers. Until we figure out how to play better and cleaner, we are going to have games like these. All that said, we had a chance to win the game with 30 seconds left and came up short two games in a row”
In general Navy has struggled over the years in one-goal games, finding itself in 15 one-goal contests over the last four seasons with the Mids posting a 4-11 record during that stretch.
Five of the last six meetings between the Mids and Hoyas have been decided by one goal and all five have been in favor of Georgetown. Meanwhile, three of the last five matchups have been decided in overtime, however, this marked the first in Washington, D.C.
Although it didn’t look to be the case early on in the game after the Mids jumped out to a 3-1 first-quarter decision, it was a classic Navy-Georgetown matchup that saw the game tied four times in the second half.
The Hoyas grabbed a 1-0 lead just seven seconds into the game after faceoff specialist Tyler Knarr won the first of his 13 draws that led to a Reilly O’Connor goal.
Navy, though, bounced back scoring three goals in three minutes which was capped by the first of three goals by junior attackman Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) at 10:35 in the first quarter.
Neither team would score for the next 18 minutes, but Jones pushed the Mids’ lead to 4-1 after sophomore Gabe Voumard (Cape May, N.J.) fed Jones on the left crease. Georgetown, however, trimmed the Mids’ lead to two at the half after Jeff Fountain around the cage and took Navy keeper Nolan Hickey (Garden City, N.Y.) on a low to low shot.
Fountain sent another ankle biter Hickey’s way to open the second half, climbing to within one at 4-3, but a loose ball found its way into Voumard’s stick in front of the Georgetown goal and Voumard found junior attackman Tucker Hull(Charlotte, N.C.) standing on the crease to push the Mids’ lead back to two.
Georgetown tied the game for the first time by scoring a pair of goals in just 22 seconds, the first by Brian Casey and the second by Charles McCormick who bounced his shot in from the left corner.
The Mids answered 44 seconds later when Georgetown’s John Wujciak was flagged for unnecessary roughness and freshman Patrick Keena (Vienna, Va.) and junior Tyler Nechanicky (Montgomery Village, Md.) worked together to score an extra-man goal with 4:42 left in the third period.
The game would go back and forth the rest of the way with Georgetown answering each of Navy’s go-ahead goals, including Casey’s game-tying goal with 2:22 left in regulation.
Navy won the ensuing faceoff and junior middie Pat Durkin (Germantown, Md.) had his shot blocked with 1:18 to go. The Hoyas picked up the ground ball, however, were unable to clear the ball when Wujciak lost the ball. Navy went the length of the field and called a timeout with 30 seconds left. The Mids got the ball to Jones, who had the hot hand, but Jones was well defended and the Hoyas jammed up Jones who was unable to get a pass or shot off before the final horn.
Knarr beat Navy senior Evan McGoogan (Cranberry Township, Pa.) on the overtime faceoff and the Hoyas immediately called a timeout. Casey fired off a shot that was saved by Hickey, however, the Mids were called for an off-the-ball push which put the ball back in the sticks of the Hoyas. Georgetown worked the ball around and Navy senior defensemanAustin Miller (North Bethesda, Md.) peeled off Jeff Fountain to double Zac Guy and Guy found a wide open Fountain for the game-winner on the left crease with 2:04 remaining in the overtime period.
Jones led Navy with three goals, while Durkin added a pair of goals and Voumard scored a goal and added a pair of assists in the loss. Hickey put together his second consecutive 15-save performance, while junior long pole Pat Kiernan(Ridgewood, N.J.) produced a team-high three caused turnovers.
Navy has turned the ball over at an alarming rate this season, committing 77 turnovers in its four games including 17 in Sunday’s loss.
“As an offense, you take what the defense gives you,” said Jones. “There were too many times we pushed it when it wasn’t there and it cost us. There’s no solution in terms of what they (our opponents) are doing. We have to toughen up mentally. It’s a gut check for us.”
“There are no excuses for our turnovers,” said Sowell. “We’ve been playing since Jan. 9. We can’t blame it on the weather and we can’t blame it on early season jitters. This is our fourth game of the year and we probably do more stick work than any other team in the country.”
While Navy has held its own in the faceoff game this season, the Mids struggled mightily against the Hoyas winning just six of the 19 draws.
“Knarr had our number today,” said Sowell. “We tried three different guys and just couldn’t get any success going our way. It won’t be easy for us all year, but we are working every day to get better.”
The Hoyas were led by Fountain’s three goals, while Casey contributed a pair of goals and two assists. Freshman Alex Joyce was excellent between the pipes in the first half, posting nine saves in the contest.
The Midshipmen will play their third straight road game when they make the trip to Lewisburg, Pa. next Saturday to face Bucknell in both teams’ Patriot League opener. Game time is slated for 1:00 pm.