ANNAPOLIS – Five thoughts while reflecting on Navy’s 9-4 loss to Lehigh on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium …
1. Navy rued some early missed opportunities.
The Midshipmen led 4-1 early in the second quarter and had dominated possession. Yet they only had 11 shots (five on goal) to show for it at the time, and it simply felt as though Navy hadn’t maximized its chances.
There were missed shots on the doorstep in the early stages, and sure enough it turned out Navy had squandered a few of its best scoring chances early on.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” attackman Taylor Reynolds said. “In the second half, they weren’t coming and the goalie started getting hot and we hit him a couple times. You can’t really get in a flow offensively when you’re trying to make that extra play and trying to force it a little too much. Their defense is very frustrating to play against.”
2. Lehigh’s defense was stout against Navy’s stars.
Tucker Hull came into Friday with 41 points. Fellow sophomore Sam Jones had 24, including a brilliant five-point day last week at Colgate.
Put together, they were 1-for-6 with no assists Friday against Lehigh, and it matched their lowest combined point total in nearly two seasons as teammates.
It’s no secret Hull and Jones are Navy’s greatest weapons. With both capably contained, the Mids couldn’t manage much in their limited possession time in the final three quarters on Friday.
3. The Mountain Hawks survived without their top scorer.
Lehigh was without attackman David DiMaria, who leads the Mountain Hawks in goals (16) and assists (17).
Coach Kevin Cassese said DiMaria’s suspension would be re-evaluated Monday, a hint the junior could be back soon for Lehigh (10-1). But the Mountain Hawks did fine without him, collecting their ninth consecutive victory and first in Annapolis since 1913.
4. Lehigh capitalized on Navy’s short sticks.
With DiMaria out, the scoring onus fell upon freshman Patrick Corbett, who collected his second hat trick of the season.
“He drew the short stick tonight,” Cassese said. “It’s the first time all night he’s drawn the short stick. When I saw that, I had a pretty good feeling it was going to be his night.”
Corbett tossed in two of his goals off rebounds from solid RJ Wickham saves, so the attackman only gets so much credit for exploiting his situation. But the Mountain Hawks rather clearly zeroed in on Navy’s short sticks, and much of their offense was generated in off mismatches.
5. Navy’s road to the Patriot League tournament won’t be easy.
A 4-2 record will probably get Navy into the Patriot League tournament.
A 3-3 conference mark makes that a dicier proposition.
In short, the Mids’ league tournament hopes rest on an April 14 trip to Army, an opponent that has taken four of five from Navy over the last four seasons.
It would still be possible to finish in the top four of the Patriot (Colgate, for instance, could still finish 2-4), but Navy’s second home loss in the conference means it may just have to win at West Point to play beyond April 21.