Sam Jones did the honorable thing. Rather than utter some cliché or point fingers elsewhere, Navy’s junior attackman shouldered the blame for the team’s inability to break a 9-9 tie in the final 30.8 seconds of regulation of Sunday’s contest against Georgetown at Multi-Sport Field in Washington.
“At the end of regulation, we had the ball with 30 seconds left, and I couldn’t can one,” the Annapolis native and Severna Park graduate said. “I get the ball with 10 seconds left, and the team expects me to do something with it and I expect myself to do something with it, and at the end of the day, I didn’t even get a shot off. That one’s on me.”
Jones – who led the Midshipmen with three goals – did the commendable thing, but the entire offense played a role in the Hoyas’ 9-8 win in overtime Sunday. The unit scored three of the game’s first four goals in the opening 4:25 span, but then fizzled until halftime.
Over the next 25:35, Navy got just one more goal – a Jones tally off a feed from sophomore midfielder Gabe Voumard. The defense kept Georgetown off the scoreboard for 28:15 before junior attackman Jeff Fountain (St. Paul’s) tucked a shot under senior goalkeeper Nolan Hickey with just 1:38 left in the first half.
The Midshipmen’s inability to extend their lead opened the door for the Hoyas to crawl back into the contest. Afterward, Jones said he and his teammates must provide the defense with more support.
“It’s frustrating when our defense is playing really, really well,” Jones said. “It’s a pride thing. As an offense, we should take a little pride in taking care of our defense when they’re playing as well as they are. They did an outstanding job all day. When you hold someone under 10, you should win.
“Since I’ve been this tall,” he continued, motioning to his waist, “[When] Navy scores 10 goals, they win. That’s the way it is. Last week, if we had scored 10 goals [in a 10-9 loss to No. 18 Fairfield], we probably would’ve won that game. … So it’s frustrating.”
The ineffectiveness of the offense didn’t escape the attention of Navy coach Rick Sowell.
“Our defense did a great job early on, and offensively, we were just kind of sputtering,” he said. “We got up 3-1 and we had some opportunities that we squandered.”
*At 6 feet 7, Hickey is the tallest goalie in Division I, and he has been playing like that recently. In back-to-back losses to Fairfield and Georgetown, Hickey has made 15 saves in each contest and helped assuage any concerns about finding a successor to R.J. Wickham. Hickey’s play, however, isn’t news to Sowell. “Just going back to the fall, he’s just been a solid goalie, and now he’s adjusting to the pressure of playing in the moment,” Sowell said. “You can really see his leadership. He’s out there barking and he’s in control of the defense. Not surprised because he’s been a great captain for us. It’s just good to see that he’s playing well, but we’ve got to get some other guys playing better around him.”
*When Tyler Knarr opened overtime with another faceoff win, it was the Hoyas redshirt junior long-stick midfielder’s 13th in 19 attempts. Knarr’s game-high 12 ground balls put an exclamation point on an excellent afternoon. “I thought Tyler Knarr was awesome today,” Georgetown coach Kevin Warne said. “It’s unique facing off with a long stick, but Tyler is quick enough to get the ball out and he did a great job. But we also understood how good Navy’s wing play was. No. 26, [junior long-stick midfielder Pat] Kiernan, is a great guy on the wing, and we really wanted to make it almost a two-on-two and not allow him to be involved because when he gets involved, he gets the ball.” Senior Evan McGoogan took 16 faceoffs, winning just six, but freshman Sean Reilly and Kiernan went 0-for-2 and 0-for-1, respectively. “We’re not a great faceoff team,” Sowell said. “It’s not going to be easy for us the whole year. Some days will probably be a little bit better than other days. Hopefully, we’re not horrible. I don’t know if you want to say that today was horrible. He had our number. Give him credit. We ran three different guys out there, but we just couldn’t have a lot of success there.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun