No. 17 Navy collected its first win of the season in Saturday's 11-5 victory at Delaware without starting attackman Jack Ray, and the team is bracing for another two weeks without the 6-foot-6, 261-pound junior.
Coach Rick Sowell said Tuesday afternoon that Ray is dealing with a foot injury that flared up in the first quarter of a 15-12 loss to then-No. 2 Maryland on Feb. 11. Ray played through the injury, but Sowell said the team has decided to keep him on the sideline for "at least a couple weeks."
"Unfortunately, he's had to deal with foot injuries since he's been here," Sowell said. "We're just shutting him down a little bit and seeing how it responds, and we'll go from there."
With a season-ending knee injury to junior midfielder Casey Rees, Ray was expected to be the primary catalyst on offense for the Midshipmen (1-2). But the unit scored 12 goals against the Terps with Ray at less than full strength and 11 against the Blue Hens without Ray entirely.
"We're excited with the way the offense is performing so far this season, and there's still plenty of room to grow," Sowell said. "I feel like we're just scratching the surface with chemistry and tinkering with different sets. We'll see. We're playing some pretty good defenses coming up, but we certainly feel as though we'll be able to score one more than our opponent at the end of the day."
Ray's absence brought about some shuffling in the starting lineup with junior Dave Little moving from midfield to attack and sophomore Drew Smiley shifting from the second midfield to the first line. Smiley recorded three goals and one assist in his first career start.
"Andrew is a young man who is an attackman by trade, but we moved him to the midfield because we had Jack and [sophomore] Ryan [Wade] and [junior] Chris [Hill] and David," Sowell said. "We felt like, 'Man, we might as well move Andrew to the midfield.' He played a little bit of midfield last year late in the season. But this fall, we put him back on attack to see. … He's done a nice job. He scored a couple goals against Maryland and three-and-one the other day. So he's given the first midfield a nice spark."