The No. 14 Navy men’s lacrosse team’s chances of upending No. 9 Syracuse on Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse would likely be better with Christian Daniel on the field. But coach Rick Sowell said Monday afternoon that he has no plans to rush the freshman attackman back from a strained right hamstring.
“He feels good,” Sowell said. “I will tell you this: We are going to take a conservative approach. Obviously, if he’s feeling great over the next couple of days and he’s able to practice, that would give us the option. Do we try to play him on Saturday or do we wait another week to make sure that he’s feeling really good? Those muscle strains, you’ve just got to be careful. We just want to make sure that when he comes back, he’s able to play and not in a position where he reinjures it because we’re trying to bring him back sooner than he’s ready.”
Daniel, who suffered the injury late in a 12-10 win against Colgate on April 7, did some light running last week but sat out Saturday’s 9-8 win at Army West Point. He was replaced in the starting lineup by senior Chris Hill, who scored a team-high three goals.
Daniel is tied with senior attackman Jack Ray for the team lead in goals (19) and ranks second in points (29). But Sowell said he has to consider preserving Daniel for next weekend’s Patriot League tournament, in which the Midshipmen (8-4 overall, 7-1 conference) have already clinched a bye to the semifinals to be played April 27.
“I think any coach in my position would probably take the same approach,” Sowell said. “He’s a good, solid player for us, and we want to make sure that we have all of our players as healthy as they can be. So if it means trying to press and bring him back a little too early to play Syracuse versus waiting and making sure that he’s really ready to play, we’re going to err on the side of caution.”
Sowell said junior Drew Smiley, a member of the second midfield, is also day-to-day after feeling a pull in the groin area in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win against the Black Knights.