Junior attackman Sam Jones chuckled when asked what was plaguing Navy’s offense. Unfortunately, the unit’s woes are no laughing matter.
The Midshipmen have scored seven or fewer goals in three of their last four games, and each of those contests has ended in a loss. In fact, the team is 0-5 when managing fewer than 10 goals in a game this season.
“There’s a lot of things,” Jones said, referring to the initial question. “At the end of the day, we don’t make the smart plays that we need to. It’s on us. We don’t do what we need to do. We turn the ball over too much or we don’t get the ball where it needs to be, we haven’t been shooting well. There’s not a lot of pace, not a lot of flow to the offense right now. It’s not like there’s a magic formula. You’ve got to look within. For me, as a three-year starter on the offensive end, it’s on me. I need to step up, show some leadership, get the offense to do what we need to do, and I think to a man, all the guys on the offensive side of the ball, we’ve got to look within. It’s not like we’re not capable, and it’s not like we’re not putting in the work. We’re just not doing it, and it’s a mental toughness thing. It starts with me, and all you can do at this point is show up and grind after it.”
Like Jones, coach Rick Sowell is puzzled by the offense’s struggles, which include an 8-7 loss to Towson on March 12 and a 7-5 setback to Holy Cross this past Sunday. And like Jones, Sowell can’t put his finger on one single reason for the team’s problems.
“Against Towson, we had 43 shots, but we’ve got to be able to put more of those by the goalie,” he said. “The other day, we didn’t get as many shots because we weren’t fluid in our offensive movement. Too many guys standing around and watching one guy work and the other five guys were just watching him. And not taking care of the ball has certainly been a factor. So it’s not one particular area. From game to game, it’s varied. And there have been games where we’ve put it together. So it’s not like we’ve been struggling all year. We’ve had our moments when we’ve played good offense. We’re going to go back to the basics and hopefully build from there.”
Jones, an Annapolis native and Severna Park graduate, said the offense’s ineffectiveness has been especially galling in light of the way the defense has performed. Only Bucknell and Fairfield have reached double digits in wins against Navy, and Jones said the team must take advantage of the defense’s play.
“If a team scores seven goals on you, you should win the game,” he said. “That is basic lacrosse. If we score 10 goals, we will win the game. There’s no question in my mind that’s how it is. It’s terribly frustrating especially after watching the way our defense plays and just knowing what we’re capable of. It’s frustrating for all of us. But you can’t dwell on things. You’ve got to have a short memory. It’s not like we sit here and point fingers. The intent every day is to get better. We just need that one game where we click and hopefully, we can take it from there.”
The Midshipmen (3-5 overall and 1-2 in the Patriot League) will get a chance to see if their tinkering will pay dividends when they meet No. 16 Colgate (6-2, 1-0) in Saturday’s Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Raiders are tied with No. 13 Virginia for 27th in Division I in defense (9.5 goals per game).