Back in January, I said, “I think this might be the year that someone other than Navy finally wins the Patriot League.” Two months later, after Navy ran over Colgate to put themselves at 5-0 in the Patriot League heading into the Army game, I felt like an idiot; it looked like it would be business as usual in Patriot League lacrosse. Oh Lord how I wish I still felt like an idiot. Colgate beat Navy 12-9 in the semifinals of the Patriot League tournament, ending Navy’s season and punctuating a slide that began with a lackluster performance against Army. The Mids ended the season at 9-5.
Navy’s defense this year, except for a couple of slip-ups, was as solid as advertised. Both Matt Coughlin and Tommy Phelan were effective in goal. But what on earth happened to the offense? Talking with some dedicated followers of the program before the season, they all agreed that Richie Meade’s offense this year was going to be conservative. And conservative it was, seemingly placing greater value in posessing the ball than generating scoring opportunities. That was fine when the Mids were playing the first half of their schedule. When the tougher second half came around, it didn’t cut the mustard. The offense only scored 6.7 goals per game in the second half of the season, meaning Navy’s defense would have to play close to perfect in order for the team to have any shot at winning. The defense actually did achieve near-perfection in a few games. But if Navy’s opponent got out to a multi-goal lead, the offense couldn’t make up the difference, resorting to easily-saved desperation shots.
The question now is whether Coach Meade’s offense was conservative because he thought it had to be, or conservative because that’s just the way he does things. Part of the reason why so many people anticipated Navy’s offense would want to slow things down this year was because of how young it would be. With the graduation of Ian Dingman and Billy Looney, Navy lost 53 goals from its biggest inside-outside threats. Nick Mirabito was returning, but his supporting cast of Tim Paul, Patrick Moran, and Basil Daratsos were all sophomores. Seeing this, the Navy gameplan appeared to be to slow the game down and take pressure off of the young offense, with the thinking that in low-scoring games, the team with the best defense has an advantage. Maybe, maybe not. It didn’t work at the end of the year, anyway. But what about next year? Paul and Moran will both be juniors. Daratsos, who was nowhere near 100% recovered from his ACL injury, should be much closer to the form of his freshman campaign in which he scored 17 goals. Bruce Nechanicky should be back to quarterback the offense after his own ACL injury before the season. Is this enough for Coach Meade to decide to open the floodgates a little? We’ll see. Let’s hope so.
5 thoughts on “Thus Endeth the Lacrosse Season”
Good call Phat -Spot on re. the Navy offense.
A healthy Nech & Basil will be the catalysts that bring it all together & open things up for Paul, Moran, Lennon & (probably) Warner.
Durkin’s & Standen’s sharpshooting at the end are also a reassuring preview of coming attractions joining Biggins on the 2nd MF. Two more weapons to go with the rest.
The effectiveness of Sullivan & Bitter inverting on the 3rd MF also offers some intriguing possibilities.
All the DM & LSM (+ Tormey) & both quick draw goalies return to generate transition opportunities.
The floodgates will reopen naturally.
Nechanicky is a huge X-factor for next year. It might be too much to ask for him to be anywhere near 100%, but if he is, it will make a huge difference.
Folks – let’s face it, Coach Meade has always been conservative on offense. There will be no change next year even with the healed players in place. You can’t score passing the ball around over and over, no matter who is on the field. Any semblance of an offense left town when coach Tillman left. Kind of like when Coach Johnson left the football team the first time. The best defense in major college lacrosse in to score because you always have a chance to get the ball right back and while you are scoring the other team isn’t. This has been an incredibily boring lacrosse season. I know it won’t happen but I would like to see coach Meade retire or completely move over to coaching defense. Navy will never be able to compete with the big boys until their offense changes and that’s a fact.
I think Richie’s offense is very much open to criticism. But calling for him to retire? Come on now. While the offense is disappointing, I don’t think anyone should take the way he runs the overall program for granted.
Right Kevin – just make the defense “less boring” & everything will be fine.
Stop “passing the ball around over and over” and just shoot goals.
“Best defense …to score …always have a chance to get the ball right back (unless, of course, you don’t) and while you’re scoring, the other team isn’t ” (unless they’re scoring too). Unique ball control theory.
If only it were that simple.