Postscript from Bucknell at Navy

Midshipmen defense victimized by Bisons' off-ball movement again

March 04, 2012|By Edward Lee

Almost a year removed from Navy’s 12-11 overtime loss to Bucknell, senior defenseman Matt Vernam said the Midshipmen had to do a better job of sliding and filling in the gaps.

Apparently, Navy did not take that lesson to heart in Saturday’s 14-9 setback to the Bison at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Nine of Bucknell’s goals came off assists. Four of those assisted tallies occurred when the offense broke a 4-4 tie in the second quarter to enjoy an 8-4 advantage at halftime. And after the Midshipmen opened the third quarter with three goals in a 45-second span to threaten to overtake the Bison, they embarked on another 4-0 run bookended by assisted goals.

“Offensively, they were making us slide,” Vernam said. “They’re very good coming down inside, coming on that diagonal. We watched the film, and we knew we had to slide to them there. We knew they were dangerous on the inside, but they were finding that backside guy, and we weren’t rotating fast enough.”

Bucknell senior attackman Billy Eisenreich (two goals and five assists) and sophomore midfielder Peter Burke (two goals and two assists) usually slashed towards the cage to draw a slide and then found a teammate filling the spot just vacated by the Navy defender.

Midshipmen coach Rick Sowell was at a loss for why the defense wasn’t playing tighter.

“We just did not play good off-ball defense,” he said. “They were moving, they were rotating their attack, and in the second half, we told our defensemen to [not] even rotate. We were just going to zone it. We thought that would help, but they were forcing us to rotate. I don’t think we played good midfield defense. That didn’t help us. So we had to slide, and unfortunately, we didn’t have the fills. They were just picking us apart there. So I’ll have to look at the film a little closer to see why, but it wasn’t a good day for our defense as a whole today.”

Other notes:

*A number of plays contributed to Navy’s loss, but the illegal body check to the head penalty that junior short-stick defensive midfielder Jay Mann drew changed the momentum of the game. After the offense opened the third quarter with three unanswered goals to trim the score to 8-7 with 13:02 left, Mann’s penalty – which occurred after he unnecessarily connected with Eisenreich’s helmet after a shot with 12:00 left in the period – earned him a spot in the box for 60 seconds, and the Bison took advantage with Eisenreich finding Burke at the left wing with 11:10 left. That sparked three more goals to give Bucknell a 12-7 lead that was too much to overcome. “I was turning my back, saying something to one of the players, so I didn’t even see it,” Sowell said. “So I’ll have to look at the film. But yeah, obviously, it was not good timing to commit a penalty because they scored on it and for them, stopped the bleeding, and it settled them down. They went on a nice little run after that – again – aided by mistakes on our part that they just took advantage of.”

*Senior Logan West was credited with winning 19-of-27 faceoffs, but he also committed three turnovers, a couple of which occurred immediately after winning the draw. On at least two occasions, West would win the faceoff and then lazily toss the ball to a teammate, but a Bison player intercepted the pass. “That’s where stats can be a little bit deceiving,” Sowell said. “Yeah, it looks good that we won 19, but how many of those times did we play offense with it? We probably made 14 or 15 of those times, which is still quite a lot. But when you turn it over like we were doing on the offensive end before getting a quality shot, then those faceoffs really don’t mean much at the end of the day.”

*Bucknell snapped a three-game losing skid and leads the Patriot League without senior midfielder Charlie Streep, who is rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Coach Frank Fedorjaka said Streep, who registered 28 goals and nine assists in 2011, is progressing well. “Charlie’s doing great,” Fedorjaka said. “He’s making good progress, and we’re hoping to have Charlie back by the end of the month.”

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