The NCAA D1 season is now underway! During the first couple of weeks of lacrosse season we’ll be finishing up the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we are going through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Naval Academy Midshipmen, located in Annapolis, MD.
Photo Credit (all): Tommy Gilligan
Rick Sowell took over the USNA lacrosse program in 2012 and led the team to a 6-6 record. Richie Meade has been the coach the year before in 2011, when the team had gone 4-9. Sowell and the rest of the Navy Lacrosse faithful had high hopes for 2013, but the team dropped four tight games early on, and hopes of a winning season were erased. Can Navy make it back to the upper echelon of D1 lacrosse? 2014 is as good a year as any!
Navy will again play in the Patriot League, and that portion of their schedule will provide a consistent challenge. Navy only won one Patriot game last year, so they have their work cut out for them. In addition to those games, the Midshipmen will face off with VMI, Georgetown, Towson, Hopkins, and Maryland. Boston U and Loyola are new additions to the Patriot and new opponents of Navy this year.
It’s a tough schedule, and there are plenty of teams that can put the ball away on that slate of contests. Let’s start with Navy’s defense! Nolan Hickey started all 13 games for Navy in net, and is now gone. John Connors is a sophomore who saw limited time last year and is probably the front runner, although there are two freshman on the roster who could see time in between the pipes.
Nick Mullen returns to lead the D down low, and Jules Godino should add valuable depth. There aren’t a ton of poles on the Navy roster, but they have good athletes down low, and guys who can play tough. The smallest player on the roster for defense is 6′ tall and weights 190 pounds. Navy does have a LOT of depth at LSM, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of these guys get time down low as well. Pat Kiernan and Ben Sampson both bring back experience, and Kiernan can be a game changer with his takeaway and clearing skills.
On offense, Navy also returns quite a bit of talent. Bryce Dabbs is gone, but all 8 of the other top 9 scorers on the team return. Sam Jones, Tucker Hull, Gabe Voumard, Pat Durkin, Austin Heneveld, TJ Hanzsche, Erik Hoffstadt, and Patrick Keena provide a solid base of talent at attack and in the midfield. While the attack doesn’t have serious depth, Navy has 25 midfielders on the roster, and plenty of legs to run.
Evan McGoogan took the majority of the team’s face offs last year, but both Kiernan and Sean Reilly can take draws and win. Perhaps Brady Dove will help out in that department. Kevin Wendel and Alex Heyward should continue to help as SSDM.
Overall, Navy brings back a lot of talent and experience on offense. They should be very solid and disciplined in that regard. If they can manufacture more goals, 2014 could be a step up from years before. They have depth in the midfield, and some experience on defense. Questions exist in goal and when it comes to face offs, but if those areas can be cleared up, Navy is looking up.
Plenty of senior leadership, good returning talent, and high hopes are the theme for Navy in 2014. They might just make good on all three!
For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Boston, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius,
Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Delaware, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Furman,
Georgetown, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns_Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Marquette,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Mercer, Michigan, Monmouth, and Mount St Mary’s.