Lacrosse: Navy tops VMI, 16-5

In its season opening 16-5 victory over visiting Virginia Military on Saturday in Annapolis, the Navy men's lacrosse team did not give up an even-strength goal for the first 41 minutes 37 seconds. It was both good and bad news. NOTE: THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.

The good news was that it showed the strength of Navy's close defense, on which the three starters and goalie did not start the opener last year.

But the Midshipmen were left to rue that VMI had scored three extra-man goals in the first three quarters.

Navy finished with seven penalties for 9:30. The number of penalties were the most against Navy dating from a 9-8 loss to Bucknell in 2005; that day, Navy had eight.

The penalty minutes tied the most dating from a 9-6 victory over North Carolina in 1999.

Of particular note was that junior Andy Warner and senior Tim Paul each was called for a three-minute non-releasable penalty for using illegal sticks. Players afterward said both sticks were judged to be too narrow in the mouth of the stick.

"That's a concern for us," Coach Richie Meade said. "There are some new stick rules that went into effect this year and stick penalties could become a huge factor in the game. ... We'll sit down and address it and make sure that what we are playing with fits within the parameters."

Otherwise, it was a very positive day for the Midshipmen.

The Keydets were Navy's opening day opponent for the third consecutive year. They entered with a young lineup -- their starters included four sophomores and a freshman. Oddly, it was one of their oldest players who struggled on Saturday.

Senior goalie Sean McCoy entered with 23 goals-against and 22 saves in his career against the Midshipmen.

On Saturday, he was removed at the end of the first quarter.

By then, Navy led 7-0 and McCoy had two saves. Sophomore Nikk Davis scored on a lefty shot on Navy's first shot of the year. He added another goal on a right-handed shot midway through the first quarter for a 3-0 lead. Navy extended the lead to 7-0 following a goal by senior Basil Daratsos with 51 seconds left.

VMI was making moves in between the first and second quarter -- namely, sophomore Kelly McMinn entered the game in goal to replace McCoy.

But a crucial move also affected Navy. In between the quarters, a random stick check on Warner judged that his stick was illegal.

VMI took advantage with two EMO goals, then added another EMO goal late in the quarter to cut the deficit to 7-3. Navy put the game away with a 3-0 run that culminated in a goal by Warner -- in the game with a new stick -- for an 11-3 lead with 10:35 left in the third quarter.

Warner finished with three goals and Paul added a goal and two assists. Sophomore RJ Wickham added 12 saves.

"I thought we cleared the ball well," Wickham said. "Defensively, they didn't really have anything for our six-on-six [defense]. We had to overcome some adversity in the second and fourth quarter when we got those three-minute non-releasables, but I thought we did a pretty good job."

McMinn finished with eight saves. Senior midfielder Tim Moran added two goals, both in even-strength situations.

Overall, it was a much different opener from last year. Navy won, 13-5, but the game was tied at 5 at halftime and Navy's goalie did not make his first save until the final five minutes of the first half. On Saturday, Wickham made four saves in the first quarter to help Navy to a fast start.

"I think Navy is much better than the number 12 preseason ranking," VMI Coach Jeff Shirk said. "I know we played a very good team today."

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