Navy ends 36-game lacrosse losing streak to Johns Hopkins with 9-8 overtime win
The cheers from the Brigade of Midshipmen, the smiles on the faces of the former Navy lacrosse players and the joy the current team felt after a goal by junior Andy Warner gave the Midshipmen a 9-8 overtime victory and snapped a 36-game losing streak to Johns Hopkins were as indelible as the tears Coach Richie Meade fought hard not to shed in the postgame news conference.
Navy (6-7) had last beaten the Blue Jays in 1974. The losses under Meade were particularly acute: Seven were by one goal.
Before 10,128 on Saturday in Annapolis, Warner helped write a different ending with a goal with 10 seconds left in overtime. The goal came on the same play on which Warner took a shot to start overtime; that shot was saved by freshman goalie Pierce Bassett. During a timeout soon afterward, both sets of coaches prepared to see the play again.
Johns Hopkins (5-7) had one possession and one shot in overtime. A caused turnover by Navy senior Zack Schroeder, a groundball pickup by classmate Gordon Lawson and a vital clear by senior Marty Gallagher gave Navy a second chance.
Warner, starting behind the goal, came around, took an extra step before shooting and bounded into Navy lacrosse history.
"The second time, I had no anxiety," Warner said. "I knew I had to take an extra step and put it home."
Saturday's game didn't look promising for Navy at the outset. The Blue Jays scored on five of their first nine possessions and led 5-0 following a goal by Michael Kimmel with 45 seconds left in the quarter.
In the stands, the Brigade of Midshipmen continued to cheer, and on the sideline, team captain Anthony Arena told Navy to keep believing it would win.
Patrick Moran, Navy's leading scorer, did not take a shot in the first quarter. Navy designed a play for him on its opening possession of the second quarter, and Moran buried a close bounce shot to cut the deficit to 5-1.
A flurry of Navy goals followed. Senior Joe Lennon scored his 15th goal of the season, but another came on the second career shot by freshman Bucky Smith. Classmate Jay Mann also scored on his second career shot. Another goal bounced in off the leg of a Johns Hopkins defensive midfielder.
Finally, senior Brendan Connors picked up a rebound and in one motion swatted the ball into the goal to put Navy up 6-5 with 43 seconds left in the first half.
The game was tied at 8 on an extra-man goal by Moran with 9:39 left. The Midshipmen controlled the ball for the final 3:19 of regulation and all but 40 seconds of overtime.
Sophomore Tom Palasek finished with three goals and Bassett added 14 saves for the 19th-ranked Blue Jays. Johns Hopkins has to win its two remaining games even to be considered for the NCAA tournament, which it has made every year since 1972.
"I thought we played with a complete lack of discipline today and Navy took advantage," Johns Hopkins Coach Dave Pietramala said. "We put [the NCAA tournament berth] in other peoples' hands today. That I know."
After the game was done, and a dozen or more former players -- some wearing T-shirts that said "End It" -- had joined the current team in the locker room to celebrate, Meade fought back tears three times during his news conference.
"I thought we were missing an intangible," Meade said. "It's not something you can open a jar and sprinkle it on people. It has to be earned. And I think we're a little closer to earning that intangible now."