In less than 90 seconds, the Navy men's lacrosse team turned a dogfight into a drubbing.
The Midshipmen scored four goals in the first 84 seconds of the fourth quarter to forge a convincing, 11-3 victory over visiting Lafayette in a Patriot League showdown before an announced 552 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Friday night.
With the win, Navy improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference. It's the first time the team has had a winning record in the Patriot League since March 30, 2012, when the Mids were 3-2 in conference play.
Senior attackman Sam Jones (Severna Park) paced the team with a game-high five points on three goals and two assists, and junior midfielder Gabe Voumard chipped in three points on two goals and one assist, but it was a collaborative effort by the faceoff unit and offense that factored into the final score.
Navy led 7-3 at the end of the third quarter, but pulled away in the final period. A faceoff group headed by freshman Brady Dove won four consecutive draws, and the offense converted each possession into a goal, including three just seconds after the faceoff.
Add a goal on an extra-man opportunity and another in transition, and it was the kind of outburst that was sorely missing from the Midshipmen's arsenal last season.
"We've been saying it since day one: We've we've got to find other ways to score," coach Rick Sowell said. "I knew we weren't scoring 13 settled goals like we did last week against Holy Cross [in a 21-12 rout]. We got an extra-man goal early, which was nice, but it was nice to get those goals and not to have to rely on our [half-field] offense."
The run began with a faceoff win by Dove, his ninth in 12 attempts, that led to Jones' centering a pass to senior long-stick midfielder Pat Kiernan with 14:47 left in the fourth quarter.
Fourteen seconds later, after another faceoff win, Jones carried the ball down the high slot and flipped the ball to his right, to sophomore attackman T.J. Hanzsche, who he buried a low-to-high shot.
Dove, who finished 12-for-17 and passed Mike Haertel's freshman record of 64 faceoff wins, set in 1997, won the ensuing draw and one-armed the ball to Voumard, who found Jones alone on the left wing for a scoring blast with 14:23 remaining.
After another faceoff win, senior midfielder Pat Durkin ran down the right alley and cut back to the doorstep for a point-blank goal with 13:36 left.
"We got four goals right off the bat," said Jones, who has scored at least three goals in four games this season. "I looked up, and we were now up 11-3 and there's 13:30 left in the quarter. I almost didn't realize how fast that had happened. So that was big, and we want to see a lot more runs like that. It was nice to score in a bunch of different ways today."
Like the offense, the defense was overwhelming, too. The three goals surrendered are the fewest since April 21, 2012, when Johns Hopkins mustered just two, and the man-down defense allowed the Leopards (1-4, 1-2) to score just one goal in eight extra-man opportunities.
Sophomore goalkeeper John Connors made 13 saves, and senior defenseman Nik Mullen limited Leopards junior attackman Brian Bock — who entered the contest leading the team in goals (three) and points (four) — to zero goals on four shots, one assist and two turnovers.
"It was guys executing the game plan," said Connors, who has made double-digit stops in three of his last four starts. "The D-middies not allowing rollbacks, sweeping across the top. That really helped. We got them to shoot the shots we wanted them to take. They were all outside shots, and those are on me to save. If they do their job, I'm supposed to help them out with that."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun