Navy Falls in Final Seconds

TOWSON, Md. -- In a 10-9 loss to host Towson in men's lacrosse on Tuesday night, Navy's defense was not the problem. Nor was the offense. Sophomore goalkeeper RJ Wickham put in his usual outstanding performance.

The culprits for the loss by the Midshipmen (3-4) were a couple small missteps in the final few minutes. And Towson graduate student Christian Pastirik, an Annapolis native, took advantage when he scored the winning goal with six seconds to play. 
 
Navy's defense shouldered much of the blame for a 15-8 loss to Lafayette and an 11-4 loss to North Carolina

The offense struggled in an 8-7 overtime loss to Loyola -- the Midshipmen missed a point-blank shot in the final seconds of regulation and had a turnover in overtime.

Against Towson, the mistakes were much smaller. But they were just as costly.

"We felt pretty confident that when we got the ball in the offensive end, we were at least going to get a pretty good shot," Navy Coach Richie Meade said. "Saying that, I thought their goalie played very well. ... I thought we played better defense tonight. This is one of the better teams we've played, to tell you the truth. If we played this way last Friday we probably would've had a different result.

"It was one of those games where both teams were having success. They had to work for everything they got, and you've got to give them credit."
 
Navy senior Brendan Connors tied the game at 9 on a goal with 4 minutes 11 seconds to play. Navy had possession again with 2:33 left and likely would have called timeout had it advanced the ball into its offensive box. (Timeouts are not allowed outside the offensive box during play.)
 
But a few yards outside the box, Connors was trail-checked by senior Cameron Zook and lost possession. Mistake No. 1. The Tigers gained possession and cleared the ball. 

Towson had a golden chance to take the lead with 21 seconds left. Junior Tim Stratton sped past junior d-middie Marty Gallagher behind the goal and passed to Pastirik, who had an open shot from about 10 yards. 
 
But the shot went off the crossbar and the ball wound up out of bounds. It was Towson's ball. Meade and his assistants were screaming for a timeout, but the referees, standing at the other end of the field, did not hear him.

And that minor mistake allowed Towson to inbound the ball immediately and work it to Pastirik. Perhaps because Pastirik was at such an acute angle, Navy junior shortstick d-middie Marty Gallagher did not immediately race to defend Pastirik.

After a slight pause, Pastirik shot low and the ball went between Wickham's legs.
 
"I didn't know how much time was left," Pastirik said. "I got kind of lucky. I was aiming five-hole but I think I caught [Wickham] off-guard because of the angle."

The loss cemented Navy's worst start dating from 1996; that team finished 4-8 and missed the NCAA Tournament

The Midshipmen trailed 9-5 following a goal by Towson junior Pat Britton with 7:13 left in the third quarter. But Navy went on a 4-0 run and tied the game at 9 on a goal by Connors with 4:11 to play. Connors scored twice in the spurt; senior Joe Lennon and sophomore Ryan O'Leary added single goals. 
 
Towson won the ensuing face-off but leading scorer Will Harrington missed two shots, the second of which was saved by Wickham. The save led to the clear and turnover by Connors. The Midshipmen did not have possession again. 

Connors finished with four goals on four shots and O'Leary added two goals and one assist. Wickham had 12 saves. Pastirik and junior Tim Stratton each scored three goals and sophomore Travis Love, making his first career start, made 14 saves. 

One problem Navy had on defense is not unique. Its shortstick defenders struggled to defend Towson. And the more they struggled, the more Towson attacked those matchups. 
 
The Tigers' first, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth goals came on plays where the primary defender was a shortstick. That does not include the final goal, where the closest defender was a shortstick d-middie. 
 
And Towson's second goal came on a play where a shortstick was beaten from behind the goal, but Towson's player passed to Pastirik for a goal.
 
Navy's defensive midfield was without starting longstick Jaren Woeppel and shortstick Joe McAuliffe. In McAuliffe's absence, Gallagher held down the first spot. The second spot rotated among freshmen Bucky Smith and Jordan Seivold, sophomore Nikk Davis, junior Brian Striffler and senior captain Anthony Arena. 

But the d-middies had their highlights, too. Senior longstick Jake Brosnan scored his first career goal. And the tandem of senior Zack Schroeder and junior Tom Mansfield played on the wings on face-offs and helped offset Towson's early advantage there. 

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