No. 13 Navy homes in on Delaware in 18-7 rout Venue change, Duke loss motivate Midshipmen

March 22, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The game was originally scheduled at the University of Delaware, but when downpours left the school's natural-grass field under water, it was decided Friday to shift it to Navy's artificial turf field.

Armed with the change of venue and a motivated mood after a one-goal loss to Duke, the 13th-ranked Midshipmen responded yesterday and routed the Blue Hens, 18-7, before 269 rain-drenched fans at Rip Miller Field.

It was a lopsided outcome to what figured to be a closely-contested game.

"I'm surprised because we expected a difficult game," said Navy coach Richie Meade. "We played very well. We were hitting on 7 1/2 to eight cylinders."

Navy (4-2) never allowed the Blue Hens into the game. Jamie O'Leary scored an unassisted goal at 10: 08 of the first period and he and his teammates rolled to an 11-1 cushion before Delaware countered with the final goal of the first half.

One brief spurt early in the third quarter brought Delaware (3-2) ,, to within 12-5, but Navy scored the next three goals and ended any suspense.

"I think this was a really big game for us," said Navy attackman Brad Gilroy (Boys' Latin), who contributed three goals and three assists. "I think we had a lot to prove coming off the loss to Duke."

Navy appreciated playing on its home turf for the fourth straight game and showed it immediately.

"We went up there and lost on a bad field my freshman year," O'Leary, whose five goals gave him the team lead at 15. "So I guess we got a little revenge for that one.

"I think that kind of start is what we needed. A lot of times we start out strong, but today we carried that momentum all the way."

Said Meade: "I don't think we ever gave Delaware a chance to get untracked. We rode them and put pressure on them. We thought they were fast, but we outran them several times."

A variety of mistakes by the Blue Hens also contributed to the rout, Navy's 14th win in a 15-game series.

Goalies were caught out of the net when Navy stole passes. Defensemen mistakenly flipped the ball to Midshipmen. It was a team defeat.

"Mentally, we made a lot of mistakes," veteran Blue Hens coach Bob Shillinglaw said. "You can't afford that against Navy because you always know what to expect. They're going to do the right things."

Shillinglaw would not use the scramble for a playing site as an excuse, although much of Thursday and Friday was devoted to look for an alternate in the Newark, Del., area.

But Meade said the change "is unsettling for their kids. To have to come here must have been difficult."

Navy controlled the ball for three-quarters of the game, mainly because of its usual domination of ground balls (42-30) and a standoff in faceoffs.

"Our faceoffs were a lot better," Meade said. "We've been working hard on that, thinking we had been using too many people. We decided to put the responsibility on Jason Hull's shoulders and he answered.

"With some help from the wing guys, we did very well there. That was a big part of what happened."

Dennis DeBusschere, son of NBA Hall of Famer Dave, led the Blue Hens with three goals and teammate Jim Bruder had two as he scored in his 24th straight game.

But Navy wasn't to be taken yesterday.

"We had a lot of people banged up, but guys stepped in and filled in well," said Gilroy. "We were ready."

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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