NAVY OVER LEHIGH
April 29, 2005
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The top-seeded Navy lacrosse team produced a 10-6 victory over fourth-seeded Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals Friday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The fifth-ranked Midshipmen will face archrival and second-seeded Army in Sunday's Patriot League Championship.
Navy dominated the game from the opening face-off. The Mids jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the end of the first quarter which featured a goal and two assists by Second-Team All-Patriot League attack Jon Birsner (Levittown, N.Y.). Birsner's services, however, would be shortened as a blow to the back of the head on his goal at the 7:40 mark in the first quarter sidelined him for the entire second half.
The Mountain Hawks finally got on the board just 10 seconds into the second period when senior attack Andrew Lucas targeted an extra-man goal, the first of a team-high three goals for the All-Patriot League standout.
The Mids answered a minute later when Graham Gill (Medford, N.J.) threaded a shot past Lehigh keeper Eric Spirko.
Lehigh, however, got the final say at the end of the first half when Lucas scored his second extra-man goal of the afternoon off an assist by junior middie Jeff Wiener to narrow the Mids' lead to 5-2 at the half.
Navy opened the second by scoring three-consecutive goals, including a man-down score by sophomore midfielder Billy Looney (Silver Spring, Md.). Gill was called for a pair of one-minute penalties prior to the half with the penalty time carrying over into the third quarter. Navy took possession of the ball while a man down following a shot by Wiener and a save by All-American goalkeeper Matt Russell (Madison, Conn.). The Mids cleared the ball and Looney literally walked up to the crease and poked the shot in at the 13:37 mark in the third quarter. Older brother, Steve Looney (Silver Spring, Md.), tacked on a pair of goals just 1:03 apart from one another to give the Mids an 8-2 lead with 11 minutes to play.
Lehigh staged a comeback over the final seven minutes of the third stanza, as Severna Park native Blake Best sparked the run with 6:40 on the clock. By the 2:29 mark, Lehigh had closed the gap to 8-5 on a Lucas-to-Greg Morin goal.
Navy stopped the Mountain Hawk run at the 1:29 mark with Gill's second strike of the day.
Navy and Lehigh each scored just one goal in the final quarter which featured a chance goal by sophomore middie William Wallace (Bloomfield Village, Mich.). Gill was looking to throw to Wallace who was running up the middle when the ball was checked out of Gill's stick. The ball when straight up and Wallace came up with the ball and the goal.
Lucas scored his 35th goal of the season with 1:16 remaining in the contest, but it wasn't enough to derail the Mids' defense of their Patriot League crown.
"I thought we did a good job of winning the game," said Navy head coach Richie Meade. "It was a little frustrating that we built a lead and didn't capitalize on it. I was please, though, with our defensive effort in holding Lehigh to 18 shots. Whenever you hold a team to under 20 shots, you're probably going to win."
Lehigh head coach Chris Wakely was encouraged by his team's opportunity to play in the league tournament and gave Navy its due respect.
"Our guys are learning to compete at a higher level," he said. "The only way you can learn to win games like these is to play them. When you're down, you have a tendency to look at the score. We had some nerves today, but we had a real good year.
"Navy is more than just horses," Wakely added. "There's no doubt that depth is a factor, but they execute the heck out of the game. They are as much thinkers as they are athletes. They think the game as well as anyone."
Seven different Midshipmen scored goals for the Mids, including the Looney brothers and Gill who each registered three. Russell had a solid game in the cage where he came up with nine saves and a team-best seven ground balls. First-Team All-Patriot League face-off specialist Chris Pieczonka (Hamburg, N.Y.) claimed wins on nine of the 15 draws in which he took for Navy.
The Mountain Hawks were led by Lucas' four-point game, while Spirko turned in nine saves and a team-best seven grounders.
From Gettysburg Release.
Navy's Billy Looney to Graham Gill
Navy's Chris Pieczonka
Lehigh's Eric Spirko
Lehigh's Eric Spirko again!
Lehigh's Jeff Wiener to Andrew Lucas
Navy's Billy Looney
Navy's Steve Looney
Navy's Tommy Wallin to Steve Looney
Navy's Matt Russell
Lehigh's Frederick Cassilly to Andrew Mastromonaco
Lehigh's Mike Moran to Greg Morin
Navy's Graham Gill
Navy's Matt Russell again!
Lehigh's Mike Moran
Navy's William Wallace