Man in motion

The Baltimore Sun

During any game, Navy attackman Tim Paul might exchange a few words with coach Richie Meade on the sideline. The discussion can be animated, even heated at times, but always ends with Paul having a great deal of respect for Meade.

Paul is a rebel, but one with a clue. His game matches his outgoing personality. He is extremely fast, shifty and accurate. He can beat a defense in many ways.

And he isn't afraid to take risks, which sometimes draws criticism from Meade.

"I think one of my strengths is being able to push Coach Meade's buttons a little bit," said Paul, a Loyola High graduate from Parkton. "He might tell me to not throw a certain pass, but if the same situation presents itself, I'd probably do it again.

"Now, I know I'm going to get my butt chewed, because here is a coach with 30 years of experience and I'm going against him," said Paul, a sophomore. "But Coach Meade knows my heart is in the right place, and I love that man. I have nothing but respect for him."

Paul is a risk taker because he can do so many things well. Because of injuries to teammates and his athleticism, he was moved from midfield to attack last year and became a part-time starter.

He hasn't slowed in 2008. He leads Navy in goals with 26. He has 10 multiple-goal games this season and has scored three goals in a game twice this season.

Paul has a reputation of being just a shooter, mainly because fellow attackman Nick Mirabito is the quarterback of the offense and Greg Clement is the crease attackman.

But Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala isn't fooled. The fifth-seeded Blue Jays (9-5) will play the unseeded Mids (10-5) Saturday in Annapolis at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in an NCAA Division I quarterfinal game.

"Actually, I wish he was going to be somewhere else this weekend," Pietramala said of Paul. "He's a very diversified player and can attack you in a lot of different ways. He's definitely a shooter and can shoot with both hands anywhere on the field. For a guy who is not that big [5 feet 9, 170 pounds], he can let them rip."

And he's so daring that if something doesn't work once, he might try it again and again.

But don't get the impression he's not coachable.

"First and foremost, he's one of our hardest workers, and he has a genuine passion for lacrosse," Navy offensive assistant Ryan Moran said. "He's well-liked by the coaching staff and takes criticism well. He's a very good leader, especially for only being a sophomore.

"He's a very loose kid that you like to be around both on and off the field. But on the field he's business at all times."

Paul was recruited by Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn and Rutgers, but he decided on Navy after one visit.

"There are so many great things about the academy," said Paul, an economics major. "Where else can you get a chance to serve your country, get great academics, are guaranteed a job and play in a great lacrosse program? The relationships I establish here will last a lifetime."

That seems how long it has been since Navy beat Hopkins. Actually, it has been 34 games.

If Navy is to have a chance, Paul has to play well. He'll probably be matched up against Blue Jays defenseman Michael Evans, an honorable-mention All-American in 2007.

They played against each other on April 19. Paul had two goals, but Hopkins won, 12-5.

"Mike Evans is a great player," Paul said. "He'll press you. Hopkins doesn't like to extend too much, but they give him the green light. He likes to check you."

"As for the streak, I really don't care about it," Paul said. "I know about the history and the tradition, but this Saturday is about Navy versus Hopkins at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium and the right to advance further into the postseason. It's a game we need to win to move on. It's not about history."

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