Review & preview: Navy

A look at the 2013 season for the Midshipmen and a glimpse into 2014

May 28, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the opening installment of a series that checks in with the seven Division I programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Teams are scheduled to appear according to the chronological order in which their seasons ended. So Tuesday begins with a visit with Navy.

REVIEW

The good: In a season littered with more disappointments than successes, there were a few bright spots, and one was the play of Pat Kiernan. The junior long-stick midfielder scored just one goal and added zero assists after recording seven and three, respectively, in 2012, but he raised his ground ball total to 68 from 36 and his caused turnover total to 26 from 14. “Pat’s a special player, our most consistent player, our best player,” coach Rick Sowell said. “He took the next step. Last year, he had a real good year, and this year, he increased his ground balls and caused turnovers. We’re excited to have him back for another year.” … With junior attackman Tucker Hull sliding back after an eye-opening sophomore campaign, junior attackman Sam Jones capably filled the void. The Annapolis native and Severna Park graduate paced the offense in goals (21) and assists (12), but Sowell said observers should not have been surprised by Jones’ results. “Sam was Sam,” Sowell said. “I don’t think much changed in terms of the effort he gives on a playing field. He’s a year older, of course. But it’s just him being a year older, a year wiser. He brought that same energy a year ago, and that’s just who he is. I don’t see that changing.” … In the preseason, Sowell had sounded guardedly optimistic that Gabe Voumard would flourish as a starter, and the sophomore midfielder racked up 15 goals and five assists this season. He scored a career-high four goals in the team’s 10-9 loss to Fairfield on Feb. 19 and then tallied three in a 15-4 setback to then-No. 13 Johns Hopkins in the team’s regular-season finale on April 20. “He certainly showed signs of being the type of player we thought he could be,” Sowell said. “I think of the Fairfield game when he had four goals and then the game against Hopkins, he had three goals. So we think a lot of Gabe and we think these next two years, he will be one of the better players in the league and one of the better players in the country.”

The bad: The worst season in program history (3-10 overall and 1-5 in the Patriot League and a seven-game losing streak) was exacerbated by an offense that lacked the necessary firepower to compete. After averaging 9.1 goals last season, the unit dropped to 7.9 this year, which ranked 58th out of 63 teams in Division I. While troubled by the lack of production, Sowell preached patience. “There are obviously some things that we will do differently than we did this year,” he said. “But a lot of it is just staying the course. We feel like we have some good pieces to the puzzle, and we’ll just continue to work hard. We look forward to next year, and we expect things to be better.” … The offense didn’t get much help from the faceoff unit, which won just 45.8 percent (126-of-275). Inside Lacrosse ran a couple articles during the season on how faceoff wins don’t necessarily translate into victories, but Sowell said he’d rather be on the side of faceoff success. “I think the stats have proven that the longer you play defense, the more vulnerable you become,” he said. “It just wears on you, and I think that certainly has an effect on your defense. I would certainly prefer to win more faceoffs than lose them and take my chances starting on offense versus having to start on defense.” … The Midshipmen were one of the five worst teams in the country in protecting the ball, committing an average of 16.1 turnovers to rank 45th. But the team turned the ball over fewer than 10 times in each of its last two contests, providing a slight silver lining. “If you look at the last couple games, we were under double digits,” Sowell said. “That was something that was good to see from that standpoint. Next year, that’s something we’re going to have to make sure that we’re keeping those turnovers down.”

PREVIEW

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