Immediately after his team’s 12-6 victory over Navy in men’s lacrosse Saturday, Maryland junior Jay Carlson said he wasn’t sure whether he had shoved aside a Navy player or teammate Connor Cannizzaro to grab a rebound that led to one of his goals.
What was certain was Carlson was hungry to make an impression. He finished with two goals and an assist for the eighth-ranked Terrapins (11-3).
Carlson began the year as a starting attackman. Following a loss to North Carolina on March 22, however, Carlson moved to a reserve role on attack and midfield. He entered Saturday having taken five shots in the past five games.
His increased playing time Saturday came with the Terrapins being careful with senior Mike Chanenchuk, the team’s leading scorer. Chanenchuk played briefly — mostly on extra-man offense — after he injured his ankle in a loss to Notre Dame last week.
Coach John Tillman said Chanenchuk’s prognosis was good for the NCAA tournament, which will begin next weekend.
But Chanenchuk’s absence gave Carlson a chance and he made the most of it.
Carlson scored both his goals off groundball situations near the Navy goal. He said he wasn’t sure who he had moved out to emerge from a group of players with the ball and to score an instant later for a 7-2 lead early in the second quarter.
“All I remember is I saw the ball in the air. I don’t even know who else was going for it,” Carlson said. “I just knew I wanted it.”
Saturday’s meeting, played before a crowd of 4,528 at Byrd Stadium, was the 89th between Navy (4-10) and Maryland. The two are among the four Division I programs with more than 760 wins all time. (Johns Hopkins and Syracuse are the others.)
Both coaches said after the game they are hopeful for a 90th meeting next year but it’s clear scheduling the game will be a challenge. Maryland is leaving the ACC to join the Big Ten, and that conference’s schedule for lacrosse will take up the final six weekends of the season. Meanwhile, Navy is a member of the Patriot League, which expanded to nine teams this season by adding Loyola and Boston University.
“We’ve talked about it,” Navy Coach Rick Sowell said of playing Maryland next year. “But it’s one thing to talk about it and another thing to sit down and figure it out. With our schedule, their schedule, we’re trying to make it work. . . . We’re committed to trying. The commitment to playing is there on both sides.”
Said Tillman: “Our goal is to keep [the rivalry] going. . . . The groundballs are a little tougher in this game. The intensity is a little greater. It’s a game that helps you get ready for what’s down the road” in the NCAA tournament.
After trailing 6-1, Navy closed to within three goals twice at 7-4 and 9-6 but got no closer. Senior Tucker Hull finished with two goals and an assist for Navy. Junior Joe LoCascio and freshman Matt Rambo each scored twice for Maryland and junior Charlie Raffa added a goal and won 16 of 21 faceoffs.
For Navy, seniors accounted for all but one goal and every assist.
“Things just didn’t pan out,” Hull said of the season. “We tried our best. And if you try your best and it doesn’t work out, then not many of us are too frustrated. . . . We’re just hoping we put the right attitude in motion and it carries on through next year. Maybe our contribution will be to have built the team below us.”