March 29, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senior goalkeeper Tommy Phelan (Towson, Md.) made a career-high 15 saves, while junior attackman Brendan Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) pitched in a hat trick to lead the 16th-ranked Navy men's lacrosse team to a 10-8 win over Georgetown Saturday afternoon at the Multi-Sport Field in Washington, D.C. The win snapped Navy's five-game losing streak to the Hoyas, as the Mids' last victory in the series came in 2004 when Navy made its run to the NCAA Championship Game.

"I thought overall we played well today," said an emotional Richie Meade, whose Mids had lost back-to-back one-goal games to the Hoyas coming into today's contest. "We struggled a bit clearing the ball, but I thought our close defensemen handled the pressure pretty well. As I try to reflect, I don't feel like we stole a win. I think this team worked hard all week in practice and came to play today."

After a sloppily-played first quarter that featured a combined 14 turnovers by the two teams, Georgetown took a 1-0 lead into the second stanza off a Dan D'Agnes goal.

The next 23 minutes, however, were all Navy as the Mids built a 4-1 lead halfway through the third quarter. Connors evened the score two minutes into the second quarter and then gave the Mids the lead for good when close defenseman Michael Hirsch (Schwenksville, Pa.) scooped up a loose ball and found defensive middie Bobby Lennon (Westminster, Md.) streaking up the middle. Lennon split the field before finding Connors on the right wing for the go-ahead goal with 9:30 to go in the second.

Navy scored the final goal of the half when senior Bruce Nechanicky (Montgomery Village, Md.) fought through a double team behind the cage and lofted the ball up and over the middle section of the field to junior midfielder Joe Lennon (Westminster, Md.), who stuck a shot in the upper right hand corner. It was Nechanicky's first trip back to Multi-Sport Field since suffering the first of two devastating knee injuries that would keep him off the field for a year and a half.

While Navy was outshot by Georgetown in the second period, 7-6, Phelan came up big, stopping four of the seven shots he faced.

Navy extended its lead at the 8:34 mark in the third quarter when Tim Paul (Parkton, Md.) and Patrick Moran (Annapolis, Md.) teamed up for a highlight-reel extra-man goal. Paul set up five yards inside the top of the box and appeared to be shooting, but Moran came darting across the crease to snatch the ball out of the air and pump in the goal to give the Mids a 4-1 advantage. It also marked the 10th-consecutive game Moran has scored a goal for the Mids.

After nearly 26 minutes of scoreless play from the Hoyas, Craig Dowd punched in a goal for Georgetown in transition.

The Mids wasted little time in answering, however, as just 18 seconds later Connors willed his way through four Georgetown players before his diving shot at the crease made its way past Hoya keeper Jack Davis to complete the hat trick.

Navy then went up by four goals (6-2) with 2:16 remaining in the third when defensive midfielder Geoff Leone (Massapequa, N.Y.) intercepted a Georgetown pass and went coast-to-coast with what would be the first of his two goals on the afternoon.

Like any quality and disciplined team, Georgetown mounted a comeback, scoring a pair of goals in the final 24 seconds of action, including a 10-yard sidearm shot by Andrew Brancaccio. The Hoyas trimmed the lead to one at 6-5 when Navy was flagged for its fourth penalty in 10 minutes of play (3:05-8:23) and sophomore Ricky Mirabito stuck in an extra-man goal from the doorstep against Phelan.

The two teams would exchange goals over the next 10-plus minutes before back-to-back goals by Paul and Nechanicky just 42 seconds apart gave the Mids a 10-7 lead with 3:15 remaining in the contest.

Junior middie Scott Kocis was able to close the gap for the Hoyas to two on an unassisted shot with 1:17 to go, but it was as close as Georgetown would get as Navy took the 10-8 victory.

While Connors led all scorers with his first collegiate hat trick, Paul turned in a five-point effort on two goals and a career-high tying three assists.

"This was probably our biggest win of the year," said Connors, who has scored 14 goals on the year. "The team really worked hard this week and I think we locked it on and pulled off a big win for our program."

Defensively, Navy rookie Matt Vernam (Shoreham, N.Y.) held Georgetown's leading scorer Ricky Mirabito, younger brother of former Navy All-American Nick Mirabito, to just one goal, an extra-man strike. Additionally, team captain Andy Tormey (Syracuse, N.Y.) forced a team-high five Georgetown turnovers.

Phelan, meanwhile, got his first start of the season in goal where he came up with 15 saves, including eight in the third quarter. It's the most saves by a Navy keeper since a 21-save effort by Seth DiNola against Penn State on April 12, 2003.

"Last year Tommy came into the Colgate game and played really well, so I really wasn't worried about how he would play today," added Connors. "I think he does a great job out there under pressure."

"It was great being back out there with our defense - Andy Tormey, Matt Vernam, Mike Hirsch, Thomas Zimmerman," said Phelan, who was making his first start since last year's NCAA quarterfinal contest against Johns Hopkins. "If I ever have a good game, it's the mark of a great defense and today they did a great job. Georgetown has some really talented shooters and I was just trying to anticipate where they were going to shoot. Our gameplan was to try and contain Ricky Mirabito and I think our defense did a great job of that.

"This is the caliber of team we're looking to play against and beating Georgetown shows that we have the team and the drive to win."

At the conclusion of the game, Navy was presented a trophy in memory of longtime official Scott Boyle who tragically suffered a heart attack and passed away during the 2005 Navy-Georgetown game in Annapolis. Scott's widow, Becky, and daughter, Kelly, were on hand to congratulate the Midshipmen on their win and to remember their husband and father, one of the great ambassadors of lacrosse.

The Midshipmen will be back in action on Friday when they play host to longtime rival Maryland, who is reeling after dropping a seven-overtime decision to top-ranked Virginia in Charlottesville. Navy and the Terps will lock sticks at 7:00 pm at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in a game television to a national audience on CBS College Sports. Navy fans can also tune in to 1430 WNAV and 1050 WFED to hear the Voice of Navy Lacrosse Pete Medhurst call the action.