Turnovers continue to plague Navy

For the second game in a row, Navy committed more turnovers than its opponent. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Midshipmen lost both games.

The team turned the ball over 18 times compared to No. 18 Fairfield’s 13 in an eventual 10-9 loss last Tuesday. On Sunday, Navy coughed up the ball 17 times versus Georgetown’s 16 turnovers in a 9-8 overtime loss.

The Midshipmen’s inability to protect the ball has been a theme harped on by coach Rick Sowell, who was understandably dismayed by the team’s performance against the Hoyas.

“It’s just something that even last Tuesday, too many turnovers,” he said. “Even a week ago when we beat Detroit, we had [26] turnovers. So until we figure out how to play better and how to play cleaner, it’s going to be tough.”

Navy is averaging 19.3 turnovers – a costly number for a team that has been trying to develop a consistent offense to complement a decent attack. Supporters will argue that it’s still February and that the team will improve as the season unfolds, but Sowell pointed out that Penn committed just 12 turnovers in a 14-9 upset of No. 12 Duke on Friday night.

“We’ve been playing since January 9. We’re not playing in cold weather. We’re playing in 50-degree weather,” said Sowell, adding that he would “absolutely” bench starters who are careless with the ball. “You can’t blame it on the weather. You can’t blame it on lack of practice. This is our fourth game. Maybe the first couple, you’re excited and you’re working out some of the kinks, I guess. But Penn had 12 turnovers in their first game, and that puts you in a position to be successful, and obviously they were against Duke. So I don’t know. We’ve talked to them about making better decisions, we probably do more stickwork than any other team in the country. So we’ll keep working and hopefully at some point, things will start to turn our way.”

Fifteen of Sunday’s 17 turnovers occurred in the Midshipmen’s offensive end of the field. Junior attackman Sam Jones said the offense tried to pressure the Hoyas defense with quick passes and runs at freshman goalkeeper Alex Joyce, but may have been trying to do too much.

“We pushed it when it wasn’t there, and we had some dumb turnovers here and there,” he said. “You take what the defense gives you, and at times, we were real, real good. Too much of the time, we looked like we were trying to take what wasn’t there.”

Asked what it would take to cut down on the giveaways, Jones said, “Toughen up mentally. It’s not like people are out there physically imposing on us and taking the ball away from us at will. We’re giving the ball to the other team. We’re doing way too much of it, and that’s a mental thing. It’s a gut check for us. There’s no secret to it. Don’t give the ball to the other team.”

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