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Navy at Georgetown: Three things to watch

Navy trails, 15-7, in this series and has dropped seven of the last eight meetings. The Midshipmen (2-1) suffered their first loss of the season, falling to No. 18 Fairfield, 10-9, last Tuesday in a contest in which they failed to protect three one-goal leads in the fourth quarter. Georgetown opened its first season under new head coach Kevin Warne, a former Maryland defensive coordinator, with an 11-10 overtime setback to Lafayette last Saturday. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Multi-Sport Field in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

1) Navy’s emerging midfield. The Midshipmen have recently been powered by their attack, and the starting trio of juniors Tucker Hull (five goals and five assists), Austin Heneveld (4, 5) and Sam Jones (4, 4) haven’t disappointed. But that unit has gotten some much-needed assistance from the midfield. Sophomore Gabe Voumard (five goals) and junior Pat Durkin (4, 1) each have five points, and senior Bryce Dabbs has scored three times. Coach Rick Sowell is pleased with the midfield’s contributions, but is hoping to see more. “That’s something that we felt confident about, that our midfield production was going to be a lot better than a year ago,” he said. “But there’s still room for improvement. We’re not hitting on all cylinders at this point. Gabe Voumard had a big game [against Fairfield] with four goals for us, and Pat Durkin had a goal for us. But there’s still room for improvement and we expect our midfield production to be better than it was a year ago, and so far it has. But we’ve got to get better as well.”

2) Navy’s turnover trend. One problematic area for the Midshipmen has been their penchant for turnovers. They have coughed up the ball 60 times in three games, including 18 in the loss to the Stags. Lafayette turned the ball over 18 times against the Hoyas, who caused 12 of those gaffes. Sowell would rather not see his players be that generous against Georgetown. “We’ve got to take better care of the ball,” he said. “Quite simply, we’re just turning over the ball just too much for my liking. We got away with it in that first game and even the second game when we turned it over an awful lot. We turned it over a bunch more yesterday. So that’s first and foremost. We’ve got to take better care of the ball.”

3) Georgetown’s keeper. The Hoyas have four goalkeepers on their roster, but have turned the starting role over to freshman Alex Joyce. He finished with 11 saves against Lafayette and appeared to fare well in his first career start. Navy will get an opportunity to attack Joyce, but Sowell said the offense will be efficient with its shot selection. “We always want to test goalies early and often when you have the opportunity to. But he’s a good goalie,” he said of Joyce. “Yeah, he’s young, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not capable. So testing him early and often for us means good shots. We don’t want to just take bad shots just because we feel like there’s a freshman in the goal and we want to see how he holds up. I’m of the belief that regardless of who the goalie is, if you take good shots, they’re going to find their way to the back of the net.”

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