Navy's weakness is clear
The ninth-ranked Navy men’s lacrosse team has a lot going in its favor. The Midshipmen shoot, pass, defend, get out in transition and faceoff well -- although they got thoroughly whipped by Hopkins specialist Stephen Peyser in Saturday’s 10-9 loss at Homewood.
But the most troubling part of Navy’s game was in evidence against Hopkins and could prove to be the Mids’ undoing in the postseason.
The Mids’ clearing game has been an adventure at times in 2007. It hurt them badly in an earlier, 10-9 loss at Georgetown. Against Hopkins, Navy was successful on just 10 of its 19 clearing attempts.
“The clearing game is my fault. It doesn’t seem to me that we really understand our scheme,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “It’s something that’s been a recurring thing. I’m not sure that the way we’re practicing is the right way to practice. I feel badly that I let our team down.”
The Mids suffered breakdowns at Hopkins, even though the Blue Jays did not ride hard for most of the day. They seemed to sense Navy would have trouble with its passing and positioning while attempting to clear the ball, and they were right.
Navy even gave up a cheap, first-half goal when goalie Colin Finnegan, from way behind the net, dug out a loose ball, then overthrew defensive midfielder Geoff Leone. The ball bounced across the front of the goal, where Hopkins attackman Jake Byrne converted an open-net score.
Navy (9-3) has lost each of its games by one goal, all to Top 10 schools. In two losses, the inability to move the ball from defense to offense with consistency was a huge factor in the outcome.
On the season, the Mids have been successful on 75.8 percent of their clears. Given the amount of unranked teams they play, that is too low for a team intending to make a mark in the NCAA tournament.