Navy's new man in the net
R.J. Wickham's appearances in No. 17 Navy's last two contests are not temporary. Coach Richie Meade confirmed today that the freshman goalkeeper will continue to start between the pipes.
Senior Matt Coughlin started the first three games of this season and the first nine contests of 2008. Senior Tommy Phelan (Loyola) started the final seven of last year, playing a huge role in the school's advance to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.
But Meade elected to go with Wickham, making him the first freshman goalie to start since two-time Kelly Award winner Mickey Jarboe did it in 1997.
"R.J.'s a plebe here, but he was at [Naval Academy] Prep School for a year, so he's actually a red-shirted freshman," Meade said. "It was very, very difficult to make the decision to go with a different guy besides Matt Coughlin. I felt not just after the Carolina game, but with a couple of the other games, maybe we just needed to get a little bit more out of that position. It's never easy to do this. But at the end of the day, you do it at other positions."
Meade pointed out that Coughlin and Phelan could overtake Wickham for the starting role if the situation arises. But so far, Meade likes what he sees in the 5-foot-10, 176-pound Wickham.
"He's very quick," Meade said. "He's got very quick hands. He's on most shots. He sees them pretty well. He's good in the clearing game. ... That was an area of concern, to tell you the truth. But he's fast, and he's got speed. He's also kind of a fiery guy. All of those things are attributes that he's good at now and will continue to get better on."