Game-winning goals in the final minutes highlighted the two previous Navy women's lacrosse wins over Holy Cross. This time, it was all about defense.
If you were 15 minutes late to Navy's 10-4 victory Saturday, you missed most of the offensive action, including Danielle Vivonetto's game-winning goal, but you showed up just in time for the defensive show at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Midshipmen shut out the Crusaders for the final 42:02 as the defense had a school-record 17 caused turnovers and won 21 of 28 ground balls.
"A lot of it had to do with communication and trusting each other," said midfielder Kierstin King (Hereford), who had four caused turnovers. "We did a lot of slides, and that all depends on your teammates. We had the willingness to get in and create a forced pass, and there was a lot of help with that."
Goalie Elaina Ponchione made five of her seven saves during the shutout stretch and covered the corners well, forcing the Crusaders to hit the pipe three times.
Navy coach Cindy Timchal, who took the Midshipmen to the Patriot League final last year in only their second season as a varsity program, said her team talked about defense at halftime.
"In the second half particularly, it wasn't as much about us scoring as much as it was about us playing good, solid D and getting the goals that we could when we could," Timchal said.
Navy (11-2 overall, 2-0 league) opened with a 6-1 run as Vivonetto, who netted the game-winning goal last season with 12 seconds left, scored three goals, including another game-winner.
The Crusaders (2-8, 0-2) cut it to 6-4 with 12:02 left in the half on three straight goals, all assisted by Meg O'Leary. Navy's defense then shut them down.
The Midshipmen suffered through their own scoring drought, 24:09 without a goal, before Katrina Nietsch boosted the lead to 7-4 on a free position with 22:35 left. Erin Rawlick (C. Milton Wright) added a couple more free-position goals for a 9-4 lead with 7:04 to go.
Despite six turnovers in the last 19 minutes, Navy had the better of possession.
"We wanted to take care of the ball," Rawlick said, "because that's what caused the lull. We were forcing things or turning the ball over, so our emphasis was possessing the ball and looking for a wide-open shot."Holy Cross 4 0 - 4Navy 6 4 - 10
Goals: HC-Fenton, Gardner, Sutton, Zebrowski; N-Rawlick 3, Vivonetto 3, Mandrin Hill 2, Nietsch 2. Assists: HC-O'Leary 3, Depompeo, Mandrin Hill. Saves: HC-Martin 10; N-Ponchione 7.