Throughout fall workouts and the preseason, Navy coach Rick Sowell has openly voiced his opinion that the midfield needs to play better to alleviate some of the scoring burden on the attack.
The attack got some help in Saturday’s season-opening 20-7 thumping of VMI, but it was the second line that outperformed the starters. Junior Erik Hoffstadt registered three goals and one assist, and junior Sean Price and freshman Kevin Wendel each contributed a goal. That trio’s play made an impression with Sowell.
“We’re hopeful that this is not an aberration but more of a trend,” Sowell said. “But we thought even in our scrimmage a week ago against Virginia, our second midfield had some quality possessions. They only scored once, but they put together some really good possessions, and that carried into Saturday’s game. Our first midfield can play better. We got a couple goals from [senior] Bryce Dabbs and a couple from [junior] Pat Durkin, but [sophomore] Gabe Voumard, who had the flu, on Thursday, wasn’t playing with as much energy as he would have liked to. And [senior] Jay Mann was a little off. But we expect an awful lot out of that first midfield and we’re going to get a lot of mileage out of them. They didn’t play as well as we know they’re capable of. But to have the second midfield step in there, we’re excited about what the second midfield can contribute to the team this year.”
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Senior Evan McGoogan won 3-of-6 faceoffs against the Keydets, but freshman Sean Reilly won 13-of-18 draws. Still, Sowell wasn’t ready to announce that Reilly had overtaken McGoogan as the team’s primary faceoff specialist.
“I think that’s game by game,” Sowell said. “Sometimes you match up better against a certain style. We felt before that game that Sean might have more success against their guy than Evan. Unfortunately for Evan, he had a couple violations that I thought were questionable and I think that hurt his confidence a little bit. But we expect it to be game by game. It could be a matchup, it could be based on who’s hot. As long as they can create a ground ball for us, we like our chances with [junior long-stick midfielders] Pat Kiernan and Ben Sampson off the wings.”