Lacrosse: Navy tops UMBC, 10-3

The road to the 2010 NCAA lacrosse championship and Memorial Day weekend began shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. There, Navy hosted UMBC in a five-quarter scrimmage that was played in snow and 20-degree weather.

Despite the absence of two marquee players -- one on each team -- there were plenty of talking points.

Not least was the balance that Navy showed on offense and defense in a 10-3 victory. Seniors Evan Sullivan, Basil Daratsos and Brendan Connors each scored two goals for Navy; single goals were scored by sophomore Nikk Davis, senior Joe Lennon, junior Kevin Doyle and sophomore Taylor Reynolds.

Senior Chris Jones and juniors Benin Bembry and Bobby Stockton scored for the Retrievers.

The biggest news from the scrimmage, however, might be about who did not play. UMBC senior Bobby Atwell, one of the top defensemen in the country, left the scrimmage in the opening minutes and receieved treatment on his knee on the sideline. Atwell missed the 2009 season with a knee injury.

Meantime, Navy senior Tim Paul, the team's leading scorer the past two years, did not suit up; he is out with an unspecified injury. Sophomore Tom Mansfield, a starting defenseman, also did not suit up.

Without Paul, Navy's starting attack was Connors, junior Andy Warner and sophomore Ryan O'Leary. Senior Kyle Kapron, a reserve the past three years, was the first substitute. Connors scored a team-high 21 goals last year and both of his goals on Saturday came in transition.

Navy Coach Richie Meade said he would alter his midfield lines to put some more athletic players alongside the three best midfielders -- Daratsos, Lennon and senior Patrick Moran. Navy's first midfield on Saturday was Lennon, Moran and Davis. The second midfield was Doyle, Daratsos and junior Brian Striffler.

Navy's defense featured some good news: Junior Michael Hirsch was a starter, alongside sophomore Matt Vernam and freshman Peter Rogers. Hirsch missed most of last season with a knee injury and was held out of fall practices as he recovered.

Sophomore RJ Wickham emerged from a logjam of goalies to be the starter on Saturday.

Wickham, junior Mike Haas, senior Ward Odenwald and freshman Nolan Hickey all received substantial playing time in the fall. Wickham, however, started six games in 2009 and was considered to be the leader despite having missed part of fallball with an illness. Wickham finished with six or seven saves and gave up two goals. Haas played the second half.

Mark Goers, the longtime director of lacrosse operations at Navy, was back on the sideline as the volunteer assistant coach. Goers was a face-off specialist in college and his help with that unit was apparent as Navy won roughly 65 percent of the face-offs.

Among those who took face-offs were seniors Robby Battle and Frankie Coppolla, sophomore Logan West and freshman Will Fields.

Other Navy freshmen who played included midfielders Bucky Smith and Jay Mann and defensive midfielder Jordan Seivold. (Note: Navy was wearing different jersey numbers from the ones on the roster, so it's possible more freshmen wound up playing. I figured out who was who by reading the numbers on the backs of the helmets but I may have missed a couple freshmen.)

UMBC led 1-0 following a goal by Jones early in the first quarter. Navy tied it on an extra-man goal by Sullivan soon after. The Midshipmen took the lead for good on a goal by Davis early in the second quarter; that goal sparked a 3-0 run, with goals by Sullivan (on EMO again) and Daratsos, that gave Navy a 4-1 lead.

There were a few individual highlights:

*Lennon scored a nice goal on a low-angle shot with his right hand, even though he is predominantly a left-handed player.

*Jay Mann leveled a UMBC defender in a scrum for a loose ball at near the midfield.

*Daratsos scored on a wicked low to high crank shot early in the final quarter.

*The site of a lacrosse game being played in the snow was a little unusual to Mid-Atlantic fans. Before Navy took the field, a facilities manager poured salt onto the concrete leading from the locker room so no one would slip and fall.

The teams also played with an orange ball, which was easier to see in the snow. UMBC showed little discipline on offense. Its EMO unit, one of the best in the nation last year (nearly 50% conversions), went 0 for 3.

The first midfield for UMBC was Stockton and seniors Kyle Wimer and Maxx Davis. Starting attack was Jones, senior Matt Latham and sophomore Rob Grimm, with Grimm initiating much of the play.

The starting defense was Atwell and seniors Matt Kresse and Brian Schneider. Senior Kevin Kohri started in goal.

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