Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player or coach. Today's guest is Navy faceoff specialist Brady Dove. The sophomore from Stevensville, Md., on the Eastern Shore, leads all Division I faceoff specialists with a 71.4 percent success rate (90-of-126) this season. In the Midshipmen's 13-12 win against Patriot League rival Lehigh on Saturday, Dove won 19-of-25 draws, tying Logan West's record for most faceoff wins in a game played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Dove already ranks fifth on the program's career wins list with 252 draws in less than two seasons and needs just seven more to pass Chris Dingman (2000-03) for fourth place.
What's it like to know that you are the top faceoff specialist in Division I?
It's definitely a good feeling. But at the same time, you see that stat and it's so fluid. It changes week to week. So I guess it's a great feeling, but at the same time, it can change.
Is there a sense of pride knowing that you're performing better than peers like Bryant senior Kevin Massa, Maryland senior Charlie Raffa and Rutgers senior Joseph Nardella, who got a ton of publicity instead of you in the preseason?
It's definitely a sense of pride, but it's more like what coach says, "Just play with a chip on your shoulder." I feel like we're looked at as a team that is not at that level and for us to be performing all the way around — for instance, the defense is ranked in the top 10 this year [ninth at 8.1 goals per game] — it's a good feeling, and I think it's good for the Navy name.
Who is the toughest opponent you've faced off against?
I think last year, it was hands-down Charlie Raffa. He smoked me throughout the whole entire game [in a 12-6 Navy loss on May 3]. I think I won 20 percent that game [actually, 26.3 percent on 5-of-19]. It was just a terrible day on my end. So he was definitely the toughest.
Was there a certain amount of satisfaction when you outdueled Raffa for 7-of-9 draws in an 8-1 loss to Maryland on Feb. 14?
My biggest thought going into that game was that I knew I could do better and I knew I had to do better. Coach [Ryan Wellner, an assistant coach in charge of faceoffs] had discussed with me before that game that he had confidence in me and that I could do better. Luckily, I performed.
With a 5-3 overall record, a 3-1 mark in the Patriot League and wins in four of the last five games, what's the mood like in the locker room?
The mood has definitely picked up in the locker room. Everybody's feeding off of everyone, and I think we're only going up from here, and you can see everyone getting better every day and more willing to do everything because it's easier to play lacrosse when you're winning. I love it.
Is there a sense that this team has turned things around after five previous non-winning campaigns?
Yes, I think things are definitely turning around. Us being able to pull out these one-goal games was something that we had not been able to do in the past. It's showing our offense that we can win these games, and our offense has come up huge in these past couple of games. We were down against Lehigh in the fourth quarter and even in the Bucknell game, we went down by two and our offense came up with two big goals to tie it up right before overtime.
Last season, Navy qualified for the Patriot League tournament as the No. 6 and final seed for the first time since 2010. What's the tenor like this year?
I think last year, we were fighting our way up. And honestly, I think it's still the same. I don't think we're well respected in the Patriot League. I think teams are just now starting to take notice and take us seriously this year.