Navy's lacrosse team rebounded after opening the season with three straight losses, but it really hadn't landed the caliber of victory that impresses pollsters and NCAA tournament committee selectors.
The Midshipmen parlayed motivation, fire and skill into a blistering second-half assault that knocked out third-ranked and previously undefeated Georgetown, 11-4, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to complete a topsy-turvy weekend that will surely shake up the national ratings.
Navy (5-3, 3-2) also maintained its hopes of wresting the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference title from the defending champion Hoyas, who had averaged nearly 14 goals a game while blowing away their six previous opponents.
After a defensive-dominated first half, Navy scored nine consecutive goals to erase a 3-2 deficit and turn the game into a rout while Georgetown (6-1, 2-1) botched clears, tossed away passes and grew frustrated offensively as its high-powered attack fizzled.
"We were working very hard all week and we were all over the place today," said Navy attackman Eddie McKinnon, who contributed two goals and an assist. "We could play like this every game. We should have played like this."
Not that the 20th-ranked Midshipmen were exactly downtrodden earlier this season. They opened with a one-goal loss to UMBC in overtime, a one-goal loss to North Carolina on a desperation shot with a second left and a three-goal setback at Massachusetts, which is still unbeaten.
"I'm really proud of own team because it's a long way back from 0-3," said Navy coach Richie Meade. "We were close to being 3-0, so this game was a great boost to our players. They were all put under a lot of pressure and they had the ability to deal with the adversity. Something good happened for them."
With Jon Higdon (South River) flourishing in goal and the Navy defensemen throttling the ECAC's No. 2 goal scorer, Steve Dusseau, and No. 1 assist man, Mike Hammer, for the most part, the Midshipmen tied the game at 3 with their third extra-man goal only 21 seconds into the second half.
McKinnon followed with a score on a nice feed from outstanding freshman Dave Pittard, and Michael Cataffo followed McKinnon's next shot by corraling the rebound and beating Hoyas goalie Scott Schroeder to put Navy in command.
Then, as Meade put it, "we just got rolling. Things happened and Georgetown didn't react."
With Schroeder behind the net, Greg Conklin got a pass to Pittard, who was standing alone in front for an easy score. Freshman long-sticker Thomas Morris scored on a fast break. Adam Borcz (Calvert Hall) collected two goals within 1 minute, 5 seconds. Meanwhile, Higdon and company stymied the Hoyas in the second half until Mike Henehan scored a meaningless goal with just over a minute left.
"Our defense played its best game of the year," said Higdon. "We were all prepared, mentally intense."
Georgetown's veteran coach, Dave Urick, thought his players might have been a little too full of themselves in the first time Navy has played them at the stadium.
"I felt we might have been a little ripe [for an upset]," said Urick. "Our guys maybe were feeling a little too good about where they were. But Navy was not to be denied today. They made their own breaks, played hard and were well prepared. We got caught assuming a little too much."
Meade credited assistant coaches Matt Hogan and Ensign John Tillman with compiling a great scouting report. "We had a tremendous game plan. To hold them to four goals is something. Higdon played very well. He finally might have stepped out of the shadow of Mickey Jarboe (All-American and two-time Kelly Award winner)."
Georgetown 1 2 0 1 - 4
Navy 1 1 3 6 - 11
Goals: G-Dusseau 2, Henehan, Walker; N-Borcz 2, McKinnon 2, Cataffo 2, Conklin, Cornes, Lockwood, Morris, Pittard. Assists: G-Hammer 2, Sharpe; N-Pittard 2, Cataffo, Conklin, Holton, McKinnon, Sheedy. Saves: G-Schroeder 13; N-Higdon 15.