Brady Dove may have turned some heads by winning 16-of-21 faceoffs and collecting a game-high nine ground balls in Navy’s 18-5 thumping of VMI in the season opener for both sides on Saturday, but the freshman’s performance was not news to coach Rick Sowell.
“He’s been pretty good ever since he showed up in the fall,” Sowell said Monday afternoon of Dove. “… He’s been rock solid. But you never know with faceoffs. It just takes that one matchup, that one move that’s your Achilles heel and the next thing you know, instead of maybe being 16-of-21, you’re 5-of-21. … He scored a goal, too. I think he played some attack in high school. So he has a knack for the goal. Anytime you get a goal from your faceoff man, it’s an emotional goal that the team typically responds well to. We’re excited by what he brings to the faceoffs, and hopefully, that will continue.”
Dove was one of four freshmen who played significant roles against the Keydets. Defensemen Chris Fennell and Matt Rees (Boys’ Latin) started and each recorded three ground balls and one caused turnover. Short-stick defensive midfielder John Trainor scooped up four ground balls and caused one turnover.
“The four of them, they handled it just as we thought they would,” Sowell said. “A lot of poise, they were not awestruck. Chris and Matt did not play an awful lot of defense, but when they did, they played as well as we thought they would.”
As well as the rookies played, the Midshipmen (1-0) avoided a potential disaster involving senior defenseman Nik Mullen. He left the game briefly after Sowell said he got kneed in the calf. He finished with one assist and one ground ball.
“He was out for a few minutes and came back in with a wrap on and before long, he took the wrap off,” Sowell said. “It was like a charley horse, a muscle bruise, but nothing that will stop him from practicing and of course playing on Saturday [against Georgetown].”