Among several strong individual performances this past spring, Navy unearthed a freshman gem in Brady Dove.

The 5-foot-10, 192-pound faceoff specialist ended the season ranked 20th in Division I after winning 56.4 percent (163-of-289) of his draws and tied for 25th with 5.9 ground balls per game. Dove helped lift a faceoff unit that won just 45.8 percent (126-of-275) of its draws in 2013 to a 55.9 success rate (171-of-306) in 2014.

“He was just rock solid from day one,” Midshipmen coach Rick Sowell said. “He’s just a steady individual. He does not go one way or the other. All he does is show up to work hard every day and get better. Very coachable. It was a nice surprise. We certainly felt he was pretty good coming in, but we had no idea he’d have the kind of impact on our team that he had to being our Most Valuable Midfielder. He won that award at the end of the year. Given our first couple years, faceoffs were tough for us. I think Brady’s production allowed us to be in every game we played. We had our chances and being able to win those faceoffs 56 percent of the time was a big improvement from the past couple years.”

Dove was part of a rookie class that provided immediate results for Navy. Defensemen Matt Rees (Boys’ Latin) and Chris Fennell started 14 and 10 games, respectively, with Rees racking up 26 ground balls and nine caused turnovers and Fennell amassing 17 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers before suffering a season-ending right leg injury. And John Trainor played all 14 games as a short-stick defensive midfielder and posted 20 ground balls and eight caused turnovers.

Sowell conceded that the play of the freshman group was surprising.

“We knew we had some pretty good players coming into the program, but you just never know,” he said. “It’s not that different from the group we have coming in this year, but we’ll see. Coming in as a freshman and making any kind of impact is not easy. It’s not just Brady, but John Trainor at the defensive midfield position and our close defensemen, Matt Rees and Chris Fennell. Between the four of them, they were all the same, too. They didn’t seem to have that deer-in-the-headlights look. There wasn’t a moment that seemed too big for them. That’s not to say that they didn’t have their adversity from time to time. But when they did face adversity, it was short-lived. They just continued to get better throughout the year, and we certainly feel that the future is bright.”