Through the first two quarters of Saturday’s contest against No. 13 Loyola, Navy had split 12 faceoffs – a remarkable showing against Greyhounds senior John Schiavone, who ranked sixth in Division I with a .599 percentage last spring.
But that all changed in the third quarter as Loyola won all five faceoffs, which led to four goals and the score being knotted at seven.
Schiavone was credited with winning 14-of-21 faceoffs, but Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said the Greyhounds’ wing players were the key.
“It wasn’t that we were struggling with the faceoffs at the X,” Meade said after Navy’s 9-8 loss. “Their wings just out-winged us. Their two guys on the wings did a very good job of just getting possession of the ball, and I thought that led to them just chipping away at the lead.”
Schiavone got the best of junior Logan West, who a week ago had outplayed Virginia Military Institute junior Stephen Robarge who had ranked fourth in the country last season. But Schiavone shared the credit with sophomore midfielder Josh Hawkins and sophomore long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff.
“He’s a good faceoff guy,” Schiavone said of West. “He was able to tie me up and let stuff turn into scrums with the wings. That’s not what I want. I’d rather win it to myself every time and be able to go. I’m lucky that I have Hawk and Ratliff on my team because no one’s going to outrun Hawk. He’s a fast guy, a ground ball machine. And same with Ratty. He’s a great when the ball’s on the ground, and they helped me lot. I think I got only two or three ground balls in the second half. They had the rest. Those were their wins.”
*Navy had a chance to send the game into overtime as senior midfielder Andy Warner – in a play reminiscent of his game-winning goal in the team’s 9-8 win against Johns Hopkins in overtime on April 24 – rubbed senior defenseman Steve Dircks off a screen behind the net and curled around the left post. But Warner’s high shot was sticked away by senior goalkeeper Jake Hagelin. “I thought I had a step,” Warner said. “I don’t even know what happened. I dove, and it didn’t go in. Doesn’t matter now.” Added Dircks: “I had guarded him previously last year, and I expected him to go to his right hand, which is his strength. He went to his left, and I wanted him to go left, I wanted him to go [to his] weak hand, and I just got picked. I’m not sure if there was an extra guy on the field or a miscommunication, but luckily, Hagelin stepped up big and stopped him right on the crease.”
*In a related matter, Loyola coach Charley Toomey said his players said that the Midshipmen had seven players on the offensive side of the field during Warner’s potential game-tying attempt. “We’re going to watch the tape,” Toomey said. “We think there were seven guys on the field. My guys were swearing up and down that there were seven on the field right there. So we’re going to get to the tape.” Meade was unavailable for comment.
*The Greyhounds got a huge lift from a familiar face. Michael Sawyer, who sat out last season due to unspecified off-field issues, led all scorers with three goals. The sophomore attackman, who was the Eastern College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in 2009, didn’t appear too rusty after a year-long layoff. “It’s a great feeling to come back and be a part of this family,” Sawyer said as he looked at senior attackman Matt Langan and Toomey flanking him. “I think our attack’s working well together, and I wouldn’t want to come back and be with anybody else but these guys.”
*Meade applauded his team’s defensive effort, but said that the unit tired in the second half as Loyola dominated time of possession. Senior defenseman Michael Hirsch agreed. “They were patient on offense,” he said of the Greyhounds. “They would come down after winning a faceoff, they’d pass it around for maybe 35 seconds, 40 seconds, get their guys on. They’d run a play, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll settle back up. At the end of the game, they played four minutes straight of offense. I remember looking up at that clock at six minutes, and when we almost got it cleared, it was about a minute-and-a-half. That’s a lot of defense. We were playing solid defense, and that’s what an offense is supposed to do, wear down the defense until there’s a little breakdown, and – boom – shoot it in.”
*Prior to Loyola sophomore attackman Patrick Fanshaw’s game-winner with 1:08 left in regulation, Navy junior goalie R.J. Wickham stopped a blast from senior attackman Eric Lusby and raced to midfield with the ball. But possession was returned to the Greyhounds after officials ruled that the Midshipmen had violated something. The problem is that Meade said he doesn’t know what the ruling was. “Our guy’s coming down the field, he’s over the midfield and almost in the box, and all of a sudden, the whistle blows,” he said, speculating that one of his players was cited for setting an illegal pick. “It’s the only thing it could’ve been. I don’t know. I’ll have to watch the film.”