ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Call it a coincidence or call it months of pent up frustration. Whatever it is, senior attack man Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) has had VMI in his crosshairs in each of the last fours, including Saturday afternoon when he scored a career-high 10 points on four goals and six assists to lead the Navy men’s lacrosse team to an 18-5 victory in its 2014 season opener against the Keydets at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“I think it’s a coincidence,” said Jones with a laugh when what it is about VMI that lends itself to his success. “I think it’s the first game after sitting on that last loss from a year ago. We’ve been working hard over the last six or seven months and I just came out fired up.”
Jones, who has produced an amazing 27 points on 16 goals and 11 assists in his four appearances against the Keydets, played a role in 10 of the Mids’ 18 goals on Saturday. He provided assists on five of the Mids’ first six goals before getting in on the scoring act with a goal that was made for the highlight reels in the second quarter. Stumbling backwards, he took a pass from fellow attack Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.) and threw the ball over his head with his back to the goal as he fell to the ground, making contact with the back of the net.
Jones went on to score three second half goals and tacked on an assist as his 10-point performance marked the most points by a Navy player since Dennis Nealon produced 12 points (4G, 8A) against Washington College on March 20, 1991. It’s tied as the fifth most points and he becomes one of just six different players in the program’s 107-year history to reach double figure points in a single game.
Navy’s opening-day success, however, wasn’t just about Jones. Eleven different players punched in goals for the Midshipmen, including three first-time scorers – junior attack Jack Hinderland (Webster, N.Y.), junior middie Tim Roy(Flemington, N.J.) and freshman faceoff specialist Brady Dove (Stevensville, Md).
In addition to Jones, Hull and midfielders Pat Durkin (Germantown, Md.) and Austin Heneveld (East Hampton, N.Y.) each contributed multiple goals. Hull recorded his 12th collegiate hat trick and added a pair of assists for a five-point game, as he moved up on the career leader boards. Hull is 23rd on the career scoring list with 111 points, one behind 2001 graduate Adam Borcz and Jones, while pushing up to 16th on the assists list with 49 over his four seasons.
Navy generated a number of its goals in transition, including goals by Heneveld and Hull in the second quarter off forced turnovers by the defense. VMI had 21 turnovers in the contest and Navy was credited with nine caused turnovers. Leading the way was the school’s all-time leader in the category, co-captain Pat Kiernan (Ridgewood, N.J.), who had three takeaways.
Navy’s defense, which started freshmen Chris Fennell (Milford, N.J.) and Matt Rees (Sykesville, Md.), as well as first-year starting keeper John Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) in goal, surrendered just five goals, the fewest in the series since 2010 when Navy beat the Keydets, 16-5. It’s also the fewest goals Navy has allowed in a game since turning in an 8-2 victory over nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins on Feb. 21, 2012.
Meanwhile, Navy’s offense also had the luxury of having the ball in its sticks thanks to the outstanding play of its faceoff unit. Overall, Navy won 21 of the 27 draws and was led by Dove, who claimed 16 of the 21 faceoffs he took. Additionally, long pole Pat Menezes (Wading River, N.Y.) won three of four and sophomore Sean Reilly (Doylestown, Pa.) won both of his draws.
Navy opened up a 4-0 lead after the first quarter and led 10-0 with just under a minute to play in the half when VMI finally got on the scoreboard. The Mids outscored the Keydets 8-4 in the second half.
The veteran attack combo of Micky Hofmeister and Mike DeBlasio combined to score all five of VMI’s goals, as well as dealing out both assists.
The Mids return to action next Saturday when they play host to Georgetown at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium beginning at 12:00 pm .