The final three quarters of Maryland’s 10-4 victory over Navy in men’s lacrosse at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday night were exactly what both teams thought the would be: Hard-fought and low-scoring.
It was the first quarter that spelled trouble for Navy (4-7) and gave confidence to Maryland (8-2). When the quarter ended, Maryland led, 6-1. The Terrapins had 11 possessions in the quarter, and scored six goals.
Navy had no such start. It had the ball for 3 minutes 47 seconds and was outshot 14-3. By the end of the quarter, Maryland led, 6-1.
“Maryland came out ready to play. Unfortunately, Navy was 10 minutes late to the game,” Navy Coach Richie Meade said. “Once we settled down it was a pretty good game.”
Said Maryland senior Brian Farrell, a longstick midfielder: “Anytime you can get up on a team and take it to them early, it puts a lot of momentum in your court. . . . We kept saying, let’s keep mentally focused and keep this going.”
The portents for Maryland’s quick start were easy to find. On Maryland’s first settled possession, it worked the ball to senior Ryan Young; he was fresh off a two-goal, four-assist performance against Virginia.
On Friday, he was matched against senior Michael Hirsch, Navy’s best defenseman. And on the first possession, Young used a pick by sophomore Owen Blye to race past Hirsch and score for a 1-0 lead.
On Maryland’s next possession, Young again got the ball and got free, but his shot hit the goal post. Maryland retained possession and junior Joe Cummings scored for a 2-0 lead.
Maryland had taken a similarly quick lead against North Carolina on March 26; it started that game with a 4-0 lead. But the Tar Heels bounced back for an 11-6 win.
After that game, first-year Coach John Tillman and his staff met with Maryland’s players individually to reassess where the season was headed.
“There are a lot of guys who had to look themselves in the mirror,” Tillman said. “I told the guys that there’s no handbook to handle expectations for the season. . . . Some of the greatest guys on our team, when we met after Carolina, said, ‘We just kind of thought it would happen.’ We’re new [coaches], we would tell them all the time, it’s the little things. It’s your approach, it’s your attitude.”
Friday night’s game had a poignant start. In a high school game that preceded the college game, La Salle (Pa.) defeated DeMatha in the Fallen Heroes Classic. The game pitted the alma maters of former Navy lacrosse player Brendan Looney and his roommate at Navy, Travis Manion. Each was killed while serving his country. They are buried next to each other at Arlington National Cemetery.
Before the game, Looney’s mother gave a long hug to Navy captain Marty Gallagher — who wears jersey No. 40, the same one Looney wore — and spoke some encouraging words to him.
Gallagher, a defensive midfielder, finished leading Navy in scoring, with two assists. Farrell, Blye and junior Jake Bernhardt each had two goals for the Terps.
The loss leaves Navy with its season on the brink. It must defeat Army on April 16 to have any chance to make the four-team Patriot League tournament; the winner of that tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We need to beat Army,” Gallagher said “But we need to do that anyway.”
If the government shutdown had occurred at midnight on Saturday, the athletic teams at Army, Air Force and Navy would have been forced to suspend their seasons until the shutdown was lifted, a Navy official said on Friday.
Navy has two regular season games left, against Army on April 16 and Johns Hopkins on April 23.
Meantime, Army (7-3) is ranked No. 13 and has defeated No. 6 Cornell this season. It is scheduled to play in Annapolis for the first time since 2007.