ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Juniors Erik Hoffstadt (Dover, Del.) and Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) scored hat tricks, while junior attack man Austin Heneveld (East Hampton, N.Y.) produced a career-high six-point effort to lead the Navy men’s lacrosse team to a 20-7 victory over VMI in both teams’ season opener Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Twelve different players scored goals for Navy, including five first-time goal scorers – juniors Tyler Nechanicky (Montgomery Village, Md.) and Sean Price (Millersville, Md.), sophomore Troy Gargiulo (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) and freshmen Patrick Keena (Vienna, Va.) and Kevin Wendel (East Islip, N.Y.) – 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.
“This was certainly a heck of a way to start off our season,” said second-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell. “We got a win, were able to play everyone, nobody got hurt and there was plenty of unselfish play. I thought our defense was solid and our offense was able to create for one another. It was an all-around good effort by the entire team and I’m happy to be 1-0.”
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 junior 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 senior middie Cade Norris (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) 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, 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.
Two areas that were in question coming into the season were answered and given high remarks by Sowell. Senior team captain Nolan Hickey (Garden City, N.Y.), who had played a total of 30 minutes in one goal prior to the VMI game, made the start in goal for the Mids where he gave up four goals in 45 minutes of action and made five solid saves.
“It was fun being able to run around with the guys,” said Hickey, who made his debut a year ago against Jacksonville at the Moe’s Southwest Grill Classic. “I’ve been waiting three years and it was just exciting to be out there.
“I wouldn’t say there was too much pressure cominginto the season. Coach Jarboe always says worry about the next shot and so as a group (the goalkeepers), that is what we stay focused on.”
“Nolan did a great job in there today,” said Sowell. “To get in there and get that first save to calm your nerves is always big. I thought he made a few real nice saves early on that set the tone and led to some goals for us, as well.”
Rookie John Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) came into the game at the start of the fourth quarter where he made five saves and gave up a pair of goals, while junior keeper Paul Zimmerman (Homer, N.Y.) played his first collegiate game and gave up a goal.
Meanwhile, Navy was hoping to improve in the faceoff department and found some success in freshman Sean Reilly (Doylestown, Pa.). Reilly won 13 of the 18 draws he took, while senior Evan McGoogan (Cranberry Township, Pa.) who started the game was 3-for-6 and newcomer Ted Demiris (Parkton, Md.) was 1-for-5.
“Our faceoff game wasn’t bad,” said Sowell with a grin. “I had an inkling that Sean Reilly would do a good job. I thought he matched up well against their guy. He did all we could ask for getting the ball out and giving our wings a chance.”
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 (North Bethesda, Md.) and Jay Christopher (Winston-Salem, N.C.) were joined by freshman Jules Godino (Summit, N.J.) in the starting lineup with Godino producing two of the Mids’ 13 caused turnovers. Junior long pole Pat Kiernan (Ridgewood, N.J.) also caused a pair of turnovers and paced the Mids with six ground balls on the afternoon.
The Mids return to action on Friday when they play host to Detroit in what will be the first meeting between the two programs. Game time is 7:00 pm (this is a change from the originally-scheduled time) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and can be seen and heard via the internet on Navy All-Access.