HAMILTON, N.Y. — Navy sophomore attackman Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) slipped the defense on the crease with 3.4 seconds left in the game to lead the Midshipmen to a 12-11 victory over 12th-ranked Colgate Saturday afternoon at Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton, N.Y. While the Mids moved to 5-3 on the year, including wins in each of their last four contests, the Raiders suffered just their second loss of the season and had their five-game winning streak snapped.
“Wow, this feels great,” said first-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “We talked all week long about drawing some positive attention to the program and you do that be getting some big wins. We proved today that we can play to that level. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys and the effort they gave today.”
The win marked the program’s first one-goal victory since Navy earned a memorable 9-8 overtime win against Johns Hopkins on April 24, 2010 in Annapolis. The Mids lost all four one-goal games a year ago and dropped a disappointing 9-8 decision to North Carolina earlier this season after the Tar Heels scored the game’s final four goals.
After falling behind 1-0, Navy scored seven of the next eight goals to seize control of the game and owned a 7-3 advantage at the half.
The game, however, looked to take an eerily similar turn as the North Carolina contest, as the Mids held five-goal leads twice in the game, including a 10-5 lead with 9:13 to go in the third quarter.
Colgate, one of the nation’s most explosive offensive teams, rallied to scored four-straight goals, including three goals in under two minutes to clip the Mids’ lead to one, 10-9, with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter. Navy did not have the ball on the offensive side of the field between the 9:13 and 4:20 mark, as the Raiders won four-straight faceoffs to keep the Mids’ defense on their toes.
The Raiders knotted up the game at 10-10 just seven seconds into the fourth quarter when faceoff specialist Robert Grabher won the draw and ran straight up the middle unscathed and punched in the equalizer.
Jones gave the Mids an 11-10 edge with 7:15 left in the game, sending his three-yard shot between Colgate keeper Jared Madison’s legs.
The nation’s leading scorer Peter Baum stepped up for the Raiders, scoring the game-tying goal at the 2:38 mark as he swept across the middle of the box and fired in his third goal of the afternoon.
With just over a minute to go, Sowell called timeout and set up a play. Navy midfielders Nikk Davis (Cockeysville, Md.) and Pat Durkin (Germantown, Md.) anchored themselves at the top of the box, playing catch for the better part of a minute before Durkin found Jones who curled around the left crease and got off a bit of a scoop shot with 3.4 seconds for the game-winner.
“We drew up a play, but it fell apart because they were pushing up,” said Jones. “I looked up at Durks (Pat Durkin) and then looked at the clock. He got me the ball and I knew I had enough time to dodge. I had luck with that side all day long, so I felt confident with the ball. I made my move and was leaning to the right trying to give myself a little bit of room and sort of got it off sidearm.
“We’ve been up in a lot of games over my two years and let it slip away,” added Jones. “I think a lot of us in our minds were saying, `no, not again!’ I had complete faith in our team.”
It was particularly rewarding for Jones who has struggled in recent weeks.
“I’ve been in a slump the last few games and the fact that my teammates trusted me means the world,” added Jones. “I love my teammates. It just really made me happy to be able to come through for them.”
“I know Sam has been frustrated the last couple of weeks, but I knew it was just a matter of time before he broke out of it,” added Sowell. “I think it was more about being unlucky than him not doing the right things. There are a few guys we’d like to have the ball in their sticks at the end of the game and without a doubt Sam is one of them.”
Jones led all scorers in the game with five points on three goals and two assists. Meanwhile, senior attackman Taylor Reynolds (Babylon, N.Y.), senior faceoff specialist Logan West (Berlin, Md.) and Durkin contributed two goals apiece with West’s goals being the first two of his career. Sophomore attackman Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.), the nation’s second-leading scorer who was averaging 5.71 points per game going into the contest, was held to just one goal.
Navy senior keeper RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) put together a solid day in goal, turning back 12 Colgate shots on goal, including eight in the second half. The Raiders took 28 of their 42 shots in the second, outscoring the Mids 8-5 over the second 30 minutes of play.
Baum, who scored just one settled goal on the Midshipmen, paced the Raiders with his hat trick, while Walsh delivered three points on two goals and one assist. Madison, meanwhile, made just three saves for the Raiders.
The Midshipmen will be back in action next Friday when they play host to 11th-ranked Lehigh at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium beginning at 7:00 pm. The Patriot League contest will be televised live by CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan (play by play) and Steve Panarelli (analyst) calling the action.