Navy coach Rick Sowell said he doesn’t always believes in stats, but even he can’t deny the numbers the defense is floating around this spring.
The No. 13 Midshipmen (6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Patriot League) rank fourth in Division I in fewest goals allowed per game at 6.9 and 10th in caused turnovers per contest at 8.6. And opponents have converted just 24.6 percent (55-of-224) of their shots.
During its current four-game winning streak – the program’s first such run since 2012 – the defense has held Bucknell, No. 16 Loyola Maryland, Lafayette and Lehigh to an average of 11.5 and a shooting percentage of 23.0 (26-of-113). Navy kept the Bison off the scoreboard for a 28-minute, 26-second stretch, the Greyhounds for 24:50, the Leopards for 19:51 and 19:12, and the Mountain Hawks for 17:10.
“We’re keeping teams under double digits, and we’ve been able to hold teams scoreless in significant stretches, and that’s always good because it allows our offense to figure out whatever they need to figure out,” coach Rick Sowell said Monday afternoon. “… The defense, to be honest with you, when I look at them, I just don’t see any weaknesses. We’re strong at the D-midfield position, short-stick and poles. We feel good about our close defense unit led by [junior] Chris Fennell. [Sophomore] Hiram Carter is playing well and had another good game the other day against Lehigh, and [senior] Jules Godino is playing at a high level as well. They’re in rhythm, and they take what they do down at that end very seriously in terms of preparation and communication. When you combine that all together, you get a pretty good unit.”
And the defense is also tickling the nets by aiding the offense. Junior long-stick midfielder Matt Rees’ six points on five goals and one assist leads a group of five defensive players who have recorded points thus far, a defensive player has notched at least one point in seven of eight contests, and the group combined for two goals and four assists in Saturday’s 12-7 victory at Lehigh.
“That’s what was so exciting about Saturday’s game,” Sowell said. “Our transition game kicked in. I believe we scored four times in transition the other day. If we go back to Loyola, I believe we scored once in transition. Against Lafayette, we scored three goals. I’ve talked about it time and time again over the years that you have to be able to score in different phases. You can’t count on scoring the bulk of your goals six-on-six because that’s too difficult. So now we’re really starting to take advantage of the opportunities that we have in transition. If we can keep it up, it’s a nice combination to have.”