ANNAPOLIS -- The Midshipmen meant business yesterday.
Stung earlier by two tough losses and facing the prospect of their first 0-3 start ever, Navy's lacrosse team came out smoking against Pennsylvania at Turf Field.
Navy warmed up the March chill in a hurry, relentlessly controlling the ball and scoring the game's first seven goals en route to a 9-3 victory.
There was no carry-over from last weekend's 10-9 loss to Virginia, which could have deflated a young team.
"They were a little frustrated and angry after that game, but not down," said Navy coach Bryan Matthews. "I think they felt they gave it their best. We had a good week. While everyone else was on spring break and going to Florida, our guys were working hard."
It showed immediately as the Midshipmen out-hustled the Quakers to virtually every loose ball, kept the opposition pinned jTC in its own end and repulsed what few early shots Penn had at goalie Kevin Farrington (Loyola).
"We weren't really down," affirmed senior attackman Gardner Smith, who scored five goals to lead the offense. "We knew if we could play with Virginia, we could play with anybody.
"Today, we just needed a big one, so we came out aggressively. We're not the most talented team, but we think we can out-hustle anybody."
The rest was formality after Smith notched his fourth goal at the 10:38 mark of the second period for the seven-goal bulge.
Penn (2-2) regrouped at halftime, stepped up its tempo and made a contest of it, but Smith's final goal at 2:20 of the fourth period halted the momentum.
He was doubled-teamed and falling down, but he flicked a low shot past Kevin Lopez to put Navy up, 8-3.
"They were pressing us all over," he said. "I just ran through a couple of checks and got it off."
Navy now has a 39-5 advantage in the all-time series that began in 1914 after its fourth straight triumph. Five of the previous seven games between the two had been decided by one goal.
Penn was ranked No. 16 in the preseason USILA poll, four notches ahead of the Midshipmen, and was coming off a 9-7 victory over Villanova.
"I think our team gave a heck of an effort for four quarters and played very good lacrosse for two," said Matthews. "We were pretty sloppy the second half, but the ground balls in the game were a real key."
Navy scooped up 52 ground balls, more than double the Quakers' total (24) and held the opposition to 12 of 26 successful clears. So, most of the game, Penn was back on its heels protecting its goal.
"We got another good game out of Kevin Farrington," said Matthews. "It discourages opponents when they are getting good shots and they aren't going in.
"Any time you hold a team like this to three goals, you're doing the job on defense and in the goal. We had some take-aways by our close defense, and the attack controlled the tempo well."
Penn 0 1 2 0 -- 3
Navy 4 3 0 2 -- 9
Goals: P--Lapitsky, Candel, Hsu; N--G. Smith 5, Slough, Dozier, Roszko, Tierney. Assists: P--Taylor; N--Pawlikowski 3, Murphy. Saves: P--Lopez 10; N--Farrington 10.