Late in the fourth quarter of a 14-11 victory over Towson in men’s lacrosse on Tuesday night, Navy readied for a crucial faceoff when one of the referees sent junior faceoff specialist Logan West off the field because he was bleeding from his knee.
Rather than take the faceoff without West, Coach Richie Meade immediately called timeout. The two standouts in Navy’s win — West and senior midfielder Andy Warner — usually only left the field in extreme circumstances against the Tigers (1-4).
West won 19 faceoffs, one short of tying the team record. Warner had two goals and six assists; his eight points were the most by a Navy player since 2004.
West’s performance made sure the offense had plenty of possession. The Midshipmen (3-4) had the ball for 10 minutes 58 seconds in the first quarter, 9:25 in the second and 9:40 in the fourth. Only in the third quarter did Towson have a possession edge (7:52 to 7:08).
Warner was the main beneficiary of the increased possessions. He is playing on the first midfield, second midfield and extra-man offense.
Of Navy’s 29 settled possessions, Warner was in the game for 25.
“For some reason today I was able to find open guys,” Warner said. “And more important than that, when I did find them, open or not, they put it in the back of the net. It may look like I had a great game, but the credit goes to them.”
Once West got going, the Tigers removed their starting faceoff specialist for a backup, then the third-stringer. They eventually settled on junior longstick John Kenyon, who had not taken a faceoff in his college career.
In all, Towson won 10 of 29 faceoffs. One other problem for the Tigers was that senior attackman Tim Stratton, their second-leading scorer, did not play. Coach Tony Seaman said Stratton had been moved from attack to midfield and that Stratton simply didn’t get into the game as a midfielder.
Stratton’s spot on attack went to junior Sean McGuire; he was a starter in 2009 as a freshman but had not scored a goal in 2010 or this season. McGuire featured in the crucial possessions for the Tigers.
Navy closed to 11-10 on a goal by junior Taylor Reynolds, off an assist by Warner, with 13:18 to play. Kenyon won the ensuing faceoff. But that possession ended after McGuire took a shot that junior goalie R.J. Wickham saved.
The Midshipmen tied the score on their next possession, when senior Kevin Doyle scored on a 10-yard shot with 10:38 to play. West won the ensuing faceoff and Warner gave Navy the lead for good when he beat three defenders and scored past senior goalie Travis Love with 10:06 remaining.
Navy led 12-11 when Towson had its last best chance: an extra-man opportunity with 9:24 left. McGuire took two shots, one that went wide and one that Wickham saved. Goals by sophomore Jay Mann and Warner put the game away.
Sophomore Matt Hughes had three goals and Kenyon won 4 of 8 faceoffs and added five groundballs for Towson. Junior Nikk Davis had two goals and two assists for the Midshipmen.
“We’ve been playing pretty good defense,” Seaman said. But “we gave Navy the best offensive game they are going to play. We slid when there was no reason in the wide world to slide. It was very apparent they were having trouble beating us individually, but we created offense for them.”