Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.08.2012 at 7.00 p.m. by Gary Lambrecht

Navy's Youth, Lack of Stoppers, is Spelling Big Trouble

Two weeks ago, Navy had beaten 12th-ranked Colgate to earn its fourth straight victory. The Mids were regularly hitting double digits in scoring, and were living on the edge of the top 20 with a notably young team under first-year coach Rick Sowell. But after back-to-back losses to Lehigh and Maryland, the Mids may have hit a wall.

Navy (5-5) has managed a total of 10 goals combined in both losses. And the Mids narrowly avoided being shut out in both second halves of those defeats, only because Maryland defensive midfielder Michael Erhardt accidentally scooped in a fourth-quarter goal from inside the Maryland crease in Friday night's 13-6 blowout by the Terrapins.

Besides the Mids' breakdowns offensively, the other glaring problem was Navy's inability to stop Lehigh or Maryland, once either team chose to attack Navy's short-stick midfielders. It has been tough watching juniors Cade Norris and Jay Mann get beat by opposing dodgers, and the Mids have not been able to offer adequate help to their teammates in need.

Navy, coming off two consecutive losing seasons, still has a chance to get into the Patriot League tournament with a win over archrival Army on Saturday. But the Mids might be running out of gas with a youthful roster that features 27 sophomores and freshmen among its 45 players.

At the moment, the Mids are in scramble mode. They don't win enough faceoffs to gain possessions, can't break down opposing defenses enough to score consistently, and extend their defense too much to offer strong support for Norris and Mann, who really need it. Senior goalie R.J. Wickham is having a solid year, but he can't do it alone.

Sowell probably needs two recruiting classes to turn around the program. But he only has a few weeks to fix problems that threaten to ruin what was looking like a surprisingly good spring.