BALTIMORE —- Navy already knew its difficult lacrosse season would end Saturday night at No. 2 Johns Hopkins.
The Midshipmen’s final game was effectively over within six minutes.
Hopkins pulverized Navy 14-5, dominating the Midshipmen in every possible facet in the first half and cruising after the break.
“We just weren’t poised. We needed to be more poised at the beginning of the game,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit for the way they came out and the way they executed and the way they played and the way they shot the ball.”
The Blue Jays (10-2) scored the first 10 goals. They won all 10 faceoffs in the first half. They didn’t yield a shot on goal until more than 25 minutes elapsed.
Virtually nothing went right for the Mids (4-9), while Hopkins followed up its second-half rally at Maryland last week with a thorough first half.
For the game, Kyle Wharton scored four goals and Zach Palmer had five assists —- the latter figure the most for a Hopkins player since Paul Rabil had five in the 2007 national title game.
“We’ve done a good job being patient,” Blue Jays attackman Chris Boland said. “When we’re in a groove and everyone’s distributing the ball and everybody’s getting touches, I think we’re all clicking pretty well.”
Hopkins avenged a loss a year ago to Navy —- the Blue Jays’ first setback in the annual series in 1974.
“It was a long summer, and we don’t talk about streaks, we really don’t,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “But when everybody says you’re the team that ended the streak, that sits with you and it doesn’t sit well with you.”
Of course, the jubilation of the 4,682 at Homewood Field was countered by the struggles of the Mids, who completed the first back-to-back losing seasons in program history.
It was a miserable night made even moreso by increasingly loud whispers about Meade’s job security. The loss, which capped Meade’s 17th season at the academy, set a single-season record for setbacks in a season. Navy will miss the NCAA tournament for the second straight year after making six consecutive appearances between 2004 and 2009.
Needless to say, Saturday’s rout won’t silence any rumblings —- despite an emphatic endorsement from Pietramala for the program’s second-winningest coach.
“If Richie Meade is not the head coach at Navy next year, I think it’s a crime,” Pietramala said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I think he’s an outstanding coach. I don’t think you’re going to find a guy better-suited for the United States Naval Academy. I consider him a friend. It’s my pleasure to have played against him and be on the sideline a guy like that’s on. It makes me want to stay in the profession when I see guys like that on the sideline.”
The Blue Jays scored twice before Navy even enjoyed possession once, and scored a pair of extra-man goals in the middle of the first quarter to prompt the Mids’ first timeout.
Things didn’t much better as Hopkins peppered goalie RJ Wickham (seven saves). The Blue Jays led 8-0 before Navy put a shot on goal.
The Mids finally scored early in the third quarter when freshman Sam Jones beat Pierce Bassett. Hopkins replied with three goals in less than two minutes, cementing the Blue Jays’ fifth straight victory.
“I think if they play at that level, it’s going to be tough to beat them,” Meade said.
—- Patrick Stevens