Navy men's lacrosse sustained a significant loss recently when standout midfielder Casey Rees suffered a knee injury that will force him to miss the entire 2017 season.
Rees, an honorable mention All-American last season, suffered a knee injury during a non-contact workout and will undergo surgery in early January. While the exact nature of the ligament damage has not been determined, the rehabilitation period following surgery will prevent the Boys' Latin graduate from playing at all in 2017.
"We feel very badly for Casey. It's a tough loss because he's a great player and an outstanding leader," Navy head coach Rick Sowell said.
Sowell is hopeful Rees will resume on-field lacrosse activities next fall and will be 100 percent by the time the 2018 campaign rolls around.
Rees enjoyed a breakout season last spring as a first-year starter on offensive midfield, using his wicked crank shot to score a team-high 34 goals. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder displayed solid accuracy in scoring on 32 percent of his shots
It was the most goals scored in a season by a Navy player since attackman Ian Dingman netted 36 in 2004. It was third-highest goal total by a midfielder in program history behind Brian Keith (41 in 1989) and Bob DeSimone (37 in 1975).
Rees made a huge statement for the Midshipmen in some of the biggest games, scoring five goals in a victory over NCAA Tournament semifinalist Loyola, three goals - including the game-winner against arch rival Army, four goals in Navy's NCAA Tournament upset of Yale and five goals in the NCAA quarterfinals versus Brown.
The Sykesville native's nine combined goals against Yale and Brown tied the school record for most goals in an NCAA Tournament, a mark set by Mike Hannan in 1978.
Amassing 37 points marked a dramatic jump in production for Rees, who contributed six goals and four assists as a freshman in 2015.
Losing Rees leaves sophomore Greyson Torain as Navy's top returning scorer in the midfield. The Glen Burnie resident totaled 24 points on 17 goals and seven assists as a plebe. Senior Colin Flounlacker had six points on three goals and three assists in 2015.
Sowell is hoping junior Spencer Coyle, who produced nine points as a plebe, will return to form after missing the tail end of last season with a back injury. The St. Mary's High graduate was not 100 percent healthy the entire season and contributed just two assists.
"We have other talented midfielders that will need to step up. There are some young guys we believe can help pick up the scoring slack," Sowell said.