Navy is averaging 10.7 goals through the first three games, but the team has scored just 14 goals in back-to-back losses to Georgetown and Bucknell.
Part of the problem is the lack of extra-man opportunities. The Midshipmen have been awarded just four man-up chances, which is the fewest among any Division I team that has played at least three contests in 2014. On the flip side, Navy has had to kill 11 man-down situations.
The curiously low number of extra-man opportunities has coach Rick Sowell feeling, well, curious.
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“Yeah, I am. I am a little bit,” he said Wednesday. “I can’t say it’s because we’re not getting the calls, but four is not a lot. One of the things we talked about a lot during the preseason and up through these first three games was finding ways to score goals, and certainly if you get an extra-man opportunity, that’s a great opportunity to score other than six-on-six. I’ve got a feeling at some point that we’re going to have some extra-man situations and hopefully, we’ll take advantage of them.”
Another source for generating offense is the transition game, and a key player in that has been long-stick midfielder Pat Kiernan. He has recorded nine goals and three assists in three seasons, but has yet to post a point in either department and has taken just one shot.
The thought was that Kiernan, who was selected by the Major League Lacrosse champion Chesapeake Bayhawks in the fifth round of the January draft, may have decided to concentrate solely on anchoring a defensive midfield that graduated a pair of veterans in Cade Norris and Jay Mann and starts a freshman in John Trainor. But Sowell said Kiernan has the green light to turn defense into instant offense when he has the chance.
“He’s going to have his opportunities,” Sowell said. “He’s just too good. But for whatever reason, it hasn’t come his way yet. But like I said, there will be some coming and hopefully, he’ll do what he’s capable of doing when those situations coming up. But there’s nothing concerted in terms of trying to focus on one area more than another. We can’t dictate that. So for whatever the reason, he hasn’t had as many opportunities, but I think by the end of the year, he’ll have his fair share and hopefully, he’ll be successful.”