March 17, 2013

Holy Cross Takes Down Navy in 'Huge Win'

by Chris R. Vaccaro | | Live Blog Replay

James Kennedy chipped in two assists for Holy Cross in its 7-5 win over Navy at Citi Field, home of MLB's New York Mets.
© Lee Weissman

FLUSHING, N.Y. — You could hear the music bellowing from the visitor's clubhouse in the bowels of Citi Field. There was a different sense of emotion when the Crusaders rushed onto the field when the final buzzer rang. Holy Cross was partying.

Minutes after beating Navy in the first game of the inaugural Metropolitan Lacrosse Classic in the confines of one of America's newer Major League Baseball facilities, Holy Cross coaches and players were all smiles, having pulled off one of the bigger wins in program history.

The 7-5 victory over Navy on Sunday marked the first time the Crusaders beat a military academy and was their first win over the Midshipmen in 10 tries. They're now 1-9 in the series.

"It's a huge win for our school," said sophomore midfielder Terry McKenna, who led all scorers with four goals and one assist.

Holy Cross coach Jim Morrissey, in his third season with the Crusaders, had a laundry list of execution points for his team to tackle in order to beat Navy. After the contest he listed them one-by-one, checking things like reducing turnovers and improving the faceoff game off the list. They were simple and rudimentary parts of the game, and Morrissey spoke very humbly about beating "a program like Navy."

For Holy Cross, the win wasn't a fluke. The Crusaders (4-3 overall, 1-1 Patriot League) managed to get a career day from McKenna, who benefitted from Navy paying more attention to leading scorers Clay Haarmann and John Hannan. Freshman goalie Michael Ortlieb, making his third career start in net, came up clutch consistently throughout the contest.

Ortlieb, who earned his first career win over Rutgers two games ago on March 5, made a game-high 12 saves. He was dialed in at all angles, making stops high and low and stifling any chances Navy could muster.

Couple that with the defensive help from guys like Reed Kennedy, who had a team-high six ground balls, and Matt Ward, who had a team-best six caused turnovers, and it was the perfect defensive storm. Morrissey was also quick to point out how Holy Cross adjusted in the second half and held Navy to just one goal in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

"My assistant coach Justin [Hager] did an awesome job with the defense again," Morrissey said. "We've never held a team like Navy to under six goals before. In the second half we did a pretty good job winning faceoffs, limited turnovers, and the defense played great. It was a tremendous defensive update."

"You cant ask for more from a defense and goalie," said McKenna, "only letting up five goals against a team like that is incredible."

Navy's Pat Durkin scored his second goal of the game with 11:29 left in the third quarter to come within one of Holy Cross at 5-4. Haarmann, who leads the Crusaders with 16 goals this season, scored with 1:47 left in the third to make it 6-4 and all they would need to secure a win.

Around the bend of the stadium and down the hall in the home clubhouse, Navy coach Rick Sowell spoke solemnly about losing, while paying compliments to his counterparts.

"We're obviously disappointed that we lost the game," Sowell said. "We have to give credit to Holy Cross. They made a couple of more plays than we did. We couldn't make enough plays. In the offensive end when you only score five goals, there's where you look to try and figure out why. We felt like we squandered some opportunities out there.

"Playing in a big venue such as Citi Field is pretty cool. We came up here to get a win. The fact that we didn't accomplish that goal puts a damper on it."

Sowell, who coached at nearby St. John's and Stony Brook, which is about an hour east of Queens on Long Island, said he saw some local folks he hadn't seen in years, but was more upset about the loss then familiar faces. His team will try and bounce back at home against a strong Colgate (6-2) squad, who competed in the other Metropolitan Lacrosse Classic game, on Saturday.

Holy Cross will travel to Vermont on Tuesday for its next contest.

McKenna, who grew up in nearby Summit, N.J. and said he liked the Mets and Yankees as a kid, was pleased with playing in a high profile game in the Big Apple.

"It's the biggest game of all of our lives so far," he said. "Hopefully we can build on that and get to some other big ones, but it was definitely amazing."

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