Mids' blockade stops Knights

no. 12 navy 8 army 4

With strong defensive effort led by goalie Phelan, Navy overcomes loss of top scorer Paul to pull out victory

April 12, 2009|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,edward.lee@baltsun.com

Without its leading scorer, the Navy men's lacrosse team needed a strong effort from its defense against archrival Army.

The Midshipmen got their wish as senior goalkeeper Tommy Phelan headlined a spirited performance to help propel No. 12 Navy to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Black Knights in the first game of the Smartlink Day of Rivals doubleheader Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Midshipmen produced their third-lowest output of the season playing without junior attackman Tim Paul (sprained left ankle), yet they improved to 9-3 overall and 4-2 in the Patriot League, clinching no worse than the No. 3 seed in the four-team conference tournament beginning April 24.

Navy did it by limiting an opponent to four goals for the second time in as many weeks. Army's goals were the team's fewest since April 4, 2008, when it lost, 7-4, to Bucknell.

Phelan was a factor. He turned away 16 shots, recording his third consecutive game of at least 15 stops since being named the starter against Georgetown on March 28.

"Inserting Tommy into the lineup gave us a lot of maturity," Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said. "It kind of stabilized what we were doing on the defensive end of the field."

Phelan was the goalie in last season's 9-6 loss to the Black Knights, which broke a 13-game winning streak against Army. That was all the motivation the Towson native and Loyola graduate needed.

"Last year was really disappointing for me personally because after that game I was thinking to myself, 'I'm probably the only Navy goalie that's lost to Army in over a decade,' " he said. "A good win over Maryland last year and a big win over Colgate didn't mean anything when you can't beat Army."

Phelan made eight saves in the third quarter, and senior defenseman Andy Tormey held Black Knights attackman Jeremy Boltus to one assist, which tied Boltus' worst showing of the season. Midshipmen defensemen Matt Vernam and Tom Mansfield limited attackmen Jason Peyer and Brooks Korvin to a combined two goals.

On offense, Navy was paced by junior attackman Brendan Connors, who scored three goals and assisted on two others, and junior midfielder Joe Lennon, who added a goal and an assist. Connors said the offensive players played for Paul.

"He would've done anything to play in this game," Connors said of the Loyola graduate and Ravens fan. "So a lot of the offensive guys wanted to step up and have their best games for him because if he was out there, he'd give 110 percent."

Senior midfielder Kevin LoRusso led Army (5-7, 1-4) with two goals, and the offense put 20 of its 32 shots on net. But coach Joe Alberici said the team failed to exploit several unsettled situations.

"That's kind of been our trademark," Alberici said. "We're able to get out over the top and create some situations, and we just did not do that."

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