Navy lacrosse tops VMI, 14-7, in first game under Coach Rick Sowell
By Christian Swezey,
The Navy men’s lacrosse team took the field for its season opener against Virginia Military Institute on Saturday with a new coach and new uniforms. It took only a few seconds to realize the Midshipmen also have a new approach on offense.
Navy took its first shot eight seconds into its 14-7 victory at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Midshipmen finished the first quarter with 14 shots and the game with 46. It was their most since they took 47 in a victory over Lafayette in March 2009, a span of 39 games.
Sophomore Sam Jones finished with five goals and four assists and classmate Tucker Hull added six goals as Navy won its debut for Coach Rick Sowell.
Jones and Hull “are awfully fun to watch,” Sowell said. “I found out probably mid-fall that our offense would be geared around these two.”
VMI entered with senior Stephen Robarge, a Hayfield High graduate. Robarge led the nation in face-off percentage (67 percent) and groundballs per game last year. He won 15 of 24 against senior Logan West.
But after VMI jumped to a 2-0 lead, West won five of the next eight face-offs to help Navy go on a 7-0 run that culminated in a goal by sophomore longstick midfielder Pat Kiernan early in the second quarter.
In the spurt, Hull had three goals and an assist and Jones had two goals and three assists. Overall, Jones’s nine points were the most for a Navy player since 1991.
Navy averaged 32 shots last year, when it went 4-9. Soon after the season, Coach Richie Meade was fired following 17 years at the helm. Jones and Hull were the leading scorers last season; other things, however, will look quite different under Sowell.
“The tenacity, Navy is always going to have that,” VMI Coach Brian Anken said. “But I thought they pushed it in transition a little more than we saw from them last year. They are doing new things on defense, too.”