Navy can breathe easier after win over Rutgers, 11-9

Mids relieve pressure with season's 1st victory

March 18, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

On a foggy day by the Severn River, the Navy lacrosse team found the light.

Winless in their first three games for the first time since they began playing the sport in 1908, the Midshipmen reached back for a little extra in the final three minutes yesterday and outlasted Rutgers, 11-9, in an East Coast Athletic Conference game at Rip Miller Field.

"It was exhausting," said Navy's Adam Borcz (Calvert Hall). "That is the hardest we've played all year and the guys are just exhausted. I don't know if we could have gone overtime."

The fourth quarter was a teeter-totter after the teams had battled through three periods to a 6-6 tie. There were three deadlocks and two lead changes before Navy freshman Dave Pittard connected on a feed from Borcz to give the Midshipmen a 10-9 lead.

Troubled by faceoff inefficiency during three defeats by a combined five goals, Navy then executed perhaps the biggest play of the game. Chris Dingman won the draw at midfield and, two passes later, Eddie McKinnon scored on an assist from Pittard to ice the victory.

"They kept coming back, but our defense kept coming up big," said Pittard, of Skaneateles, N.Y. "It was definitely a team win."

"I thought we played very hard," said Richie Meade, the Navy coach. "Our players have been so concerned about doing well, they've been kind of tentative. That's hurt us."

That showed in the first period when Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) surged to a 4-2 lead, with senior Keith Cromwell scoring twice, once on a spectacular shot while falling, the second time on a fast break.

But the Midshipmen controlled the second period, holding the Scarlet Knights without a shot for nearly 11 minutes and finally gaining a 5-4 edge on an extra-man goal by Pittard.

Rutgers twice tied the game in the third period on scores by sophomore Mike McLaughlin to set up the exciting finish.

Borcz believed Navy benefited from a spring-break week in which there were no classes.

"There was nothing to do except practice," he said. "We had a lot of focus because we could concentrate totally on lacrosse."

"I said some things this week that challenged them," Meade added. "I think we were a little more physical than we have been. I thought we did a good job on Cromwell and McLaughlin, playing them tough."

McKinnon was taken off the practice field in an ambulance on Tuesday after being hit in the back with an errant ball, but was back to fire in the clinching goal.

"We've still got a lot of guys playing hurt," Meade said. "We're trying to fight our way through all those things. I'm relieved that we won and happy for our players. We're trying to fight our way out of a big hole and, without this game. the hole would have been much bigger."

Rutgers 4 0 2 3 - 9 Navy 2 3 1 5 - 11

Goals: R-Cromwell 3, McLaughlin 2, Springer 2, Massey, Schmidt; N-Borcz 3, Pittard 3, Conklin 2, McKinnon 2, Cattaffo. Assists: R-McLaughlin 2, Brown 2; N-McKinnon 2, Conklin 2, Pittard 2, Holton, Borcz. Shots: R-28; N-33. Saves: R-Shaivitz 8; N-Higdon 7.

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