Navy set to be Maryland's first Division I team to open men's lacrosse season

The Navy men’s lacrosse team will be the first Division I team from Maryland to open the 2018 season when it tangles with host Jacksonville on Sunday at noon. That might be noteworthy in some circles, but coach Rick Sowell is not treating it as an honor.

“It is what it is,” he said Thursday. “I probably would prefer not to be the first one seeing how [the game is on] Feb. 4 and we’ve only been practicing for about a month. I think all coaches in a perfect world would want maybe a little more time. That’s not to say that we’re not ready because we’re ready to go. Are there some areas of the game we haven’t had as much time to spend on? Sure. I’m sure there are some areas we just haven’t had enough time. … But it’s not something that I’ve thought much about. It is what it is. We’re excited, but I don’t look at it as any type of special honor.”

The Midshipmen might find a friendly crowd at D.B. Milne Field. Naval Air Station Jacksonville is a half-hour drive away, and sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Kern said he and his teammates are eager to play well in front of former Mids and fans.

“I think we’re looking forward to having a lot of alumni down at the Jacksonville game because you’ve got the base nearby,” he said. “I think we’re more excited about that and being able to put on a show for the alumni and people who really care about our program.”

Sowell has been watching the team practice since Jan. 9, but acknowledged that he is curious to see how this squad will perform in live action against an opponent it has not clashed with since 2012.

“They’re a team that we haven’t played in a number of years,” he said. “So it’s not like we can say, ‘Oh, we know a little bit about them from the last couple years of playing them.’ It’s a new, fresh game, if you will. So there’s that uncertainty and curiosity about how we’re going to react on the road. That’s another thing — it’s down in Jacksonville.

“So there are some things that definitely make you curious about how we’re going to respond as a coach, but I feel awfully good that we’re going to show up, we’re going to play hard and we’re going to play well, and hopefully that will be good enough to get the win.”

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