Georgetown vs Navy
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Friday, 7 p.m.
TV: CBS College Sports
Radio: WNAV-AM, WFED-AM
Records: Hoyas 4-3, Midshipmen 5-4
Tickets: $10 adult
WHEN THE HOYAS HAVE THE BALL: Senior Craig Dowd is the team's best passer. He has 17 assists; no other player has more than seven. Junior D Michael Hirsch held Dowd to 1 goal and 2 assists in last year's meeting, a 10-8 Navy victory and they are likely to square off again in a crucial matchup.
Two major personnel questions face the Navy coaches: What to do against senior MF Andrew Brancaccio (11 goals) and freshman A Travis Comeau (13 goals on 23 shots).
The Mids used short-stick d-middie Geoff Leone on Brancaccio last year, to great effect. Leone won that matchup because of his size and experience, two things that Navy's current short-stick d-middies do not have. With senior MF Scott Kocis (7 goals, 7 assists) almost certain to draw a longstick, Navy may have to take its chances with a shortstick on Brancaccio again.
Comeau is part of the new gold standard for college attackmen: He's Canadian. Canadian players are a prize commodity because they can catch almost every pass and can release accurate shots with little-to-no time and space.
Also, Canadian players tend to play with hardly any pocket on their sticks. And that makes reading where the shot is going very hard for goalies, according to Hall of Fame goalie Larry Quinn.
Navy sophomore Ian Crumley did a good job on Loyola's Collin Finnerty in an early-season game that featured an important off-ball player, as Comeau is. But the off-ball defense recently has struggled. Comeau has split time with junior Ryan Shuler at the third attack spot and when he is in the game on Friday, Navy had better keep track of him.
"Georgetown enters with three losses," Navy Coach Richie Meade said, "but those losses were to Maryland, Syracuse and Duke. And their offense is averaging 11 goals despite that schedule. Needless to say, we're very impressed with them. ... Comeau gives them something they haven't had since [current assistant] Scott Urick left."
The midfielder who has impressed consistently this season is junior Max Seligmann (7 goals). He has two good hands and also plays defensive midfield. Seligmann is probable to play after he missed the second half of a loss to Duke on Saturday with a head injury.
WHEN THE MIDSHIPMEN HAVE THE BALL: Senior MF Patrick Moran (17 goals) has emerged as a top offensive threat. He primarily is a right-handed shooter but his winning goal against Colgate came on a shot with his left hand. Moran and junior Andy Warner (14 goals) have combined for 11 of Navy's 13 E.M.O. goals.
Georgetown's defense still uses an aggressive scheme. But injuries have taken a toll on the unit. Three expected contributors, including two starters, are either questionable or out.
Senior Eric Bicknese was the crease defenseman and lead communicator, but he is questionable to play with a shoulder injury. Senior Barney Ehrmann was the most disruptive defender, but he is out for the year with an Achilles' injury.
And freshman Tyler Knarr was expected to be the No. 2 longstick middie, behind Ehrmann, but he is out with a knee injury.
Senior Chris Nixon (12 caused turnovers, 24 groundballs) has emerged as a top cover defender who has defended shooters (Delaware's Canadian finisher Curtis Dickson) and feeders (Duke's Ned Crotty). Sophomore Patrick Schmitz has six caused turnovers despite playing only as a reserve; expect him to play more as the season progresses.
And junior Dan Hostetler is reminiscent of Ehrmann with his physical play and tremendous speed. But Hostetler and primary LSM, sophomore Francis McDonough, each played offense in high school and they are still learning how to play longstick defense.
"The key to beating Georgetown is handling their pressure," Meade said. "We did a pretty good job against their pressure last year. But their defense is the same as always, there's a lot of pressure and they have a good goalie."
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