BALTIMORE — After last season’s remarkable run to the Final Four, this Navy women’s lacrosse team took a different approach to the NCAA tournament. Last year felt like a debut in the upper echelon of the lacrosse world, replete with an upset of defending champion North Carolina and the program’s first appearance in the national semifinals.
The Midshipmen have more confidence this time around. Their offensive core has had an extra year to develop chemistry, and they operate with a fluidity that allowed Navy to run away with a 16-9 opening-round win over Johns Hopkins on Friday night at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
The Mids advance to play Loyola on Sunday at noon for a rubber match. They fell to their crosstown rivals, 16-12, on April 7. It was their final loss before they strung together eight straight wins — including the Patriot League championship last weekend over the Greyhounds, 17-10.
Eighth-seeded Loyola defeated Fairfield, 18-2, earlier in the day.
Sunday’s matchup also will be Navy’s fourth consecutive game at Ridley Athletic Complex — the Midshipmen (17-3) also won their second straight league title here last weekend.
“It’s basically like a home field for us now,” senior attack Julia Collins said afterward. “We feel good here.”
Navy’s confidence showed Friday. The Midshipmen were aggressive from the start, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and controlling the first seven draws before Johns Hopkins found opportunities. The Midshipmen finally put a chokehold on the game with another strong start after halftime; they scored four quick goals to push their lead to 13-5 just over five minutes into the period.
Two of those marks were from Julia Collins, who recorded her 14th hat trick of the season and has 17 goals and three assists at Ridley Athletic Complex this season. Another was from her twin sister, Jenna, a midfielder, who broke Navy’s record for career goals with 218. She also tied Navy’s single-season record with 77.
Julia Collins led the way for a well-oiled Mids offense with six goals and one assist; Jenna Collins and sophomores Kelly Larkin, Natalie Irwin and Kayla Harris had two goals apiece. Navy was sharp — 22 of its 26 shots were on goal — and relentless. The Mids had a 16-6 lead and set a running clock in motion with 15:55 to play.
Julia Collins and Larkin, who led the team with three assists, noted that these Mids spread the wealth a little more than last season’s group. It’s an offense Navy has had time to polish — the Mids rank third in the nation in scoring offense with 17.26 goals per game.
“Last year we had one of our best attackers — Morgan Young, she was a really, really big threat on offense, and a lot of times we looked for her to step up,” Larkin said. “With her being gone, we don’t have as much of a top dodger, so we have a lot of girls filling in other roles. Jenna, Julia, obviously, they’ve done a really good job stepping up with dodging, and then we’ve also had a lot of great feeding and more connecting this year than last year.”
“The chemistry’s there,” Julia Collins added, “and we’re all really finding our niche.”
Hopkins (10-9), in its seventh trip to the NCAA tournament since the program moved to Division I in 1999, was led by senior attack Shannon Fitzgerald and sophomore Mackenzie Heldberg, who had three goals each. Leading scorer Maggie Schneidereith gave Navy’s defense trouble but came away with two goals on 10 shots.
Navy goalie Ingrid Boyum faced 26 shots on goal from Hopkins and had a career-high 17 saves.
“We wanted to come back here after being here last week, and what we wanted to do was be just a little, teeny-tiny bit better,” Navy Coach Cindy Timchal said. “So Ingrid was a little, teeny-tiny bit better. Sunday, it’ll be the same thing. Focus, be a little better.”
● VIRGINIA 12, STANFORD 3: Sammy Mueller scored five goals and Kasey Behr added four as the Cavaliers (10-9) knocked off the Cardinal (15-5) in Harrisonburg, Va.
Goalkeeper Rachel Vander Kolk (Severna Park High) made a season-high 14 saves for Virginia, which advanced to play James Madison on Sunday.
● VIRGINIA TECH 13, GEORGETOWN 10: The Hokies (14-6) grabbed a 9-3 halftime lead and then held off the Hoyas in Raleigh, N.C.
Paige Petty and Tristan McGinley each scored four goals for Virginia Tech, which moved on to face North Carolina on Sunday. Taylor Gebhardt had three goals and two assists for Georgetown (12-7).
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