- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — A slow start didn’t prevent Navy from rebounding from its first loss of the season.

The seventh-ranked Midshipmen shrugged off a shaky first quarter to blow out Lafayette 14-1 yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The victory came three days after Navy’s overtime loss at Bucknell, the program’s first Patriot League defeat since joining the conference last season.

“Losing to Bucknell was a big wake-up call for us,” said sophomore midfielder William Wallace, who won all 13 of his faceoff attempts and scored in the victory. “Every game counts and we really have to take care of business, especially in our league because it means a lot more as far as [playing host to] the tournament.”

Navy (4-1, 1-1) played without three of its top players against the undermanned Leopards (0-5, 0-1). Attackman Jon Birsner (back spasms) and faceoff specialist Chris Pieczonka (shoulder bruise) both sat out as precautionary measures, while defenseman Pat Reilley (broken thumb) will miss up to eight weeks.

The Mids’ reserves filled in capably, especially for Pieczonka. Navy went 17-for-18 on faceoffs against a Lafayette unit that appeared willing to concede possession in order to drop back and avoid allowing quick goals.

Tommy Wallin scored three goals and Graham Gill and Billy Looney both added two for the Mids, who outshot the Leopards 41-7 in the final three quarters.

Navy allowed its only goal with 56 seconds left in the first half, but quickly regrouped. Freshman Matt Guido scored six seconds later off a faceoff win before Gill and Steve Looney collected goals in the final 16 seconds of the quarter to give the Mids a 9-1 lead.

Despite the gaudy final score, the Mids weren’t crisp while committing six turnovers in the first quarter. It took more than 11 minutes for Navy to score, though coach Richie Meade decided it wasn’t worth calling a timeout to get his team in order.

“The guys are going to work through it,” Meade said. “What are you going to say to them? You call a timeout and you say “Try to throw and catch?’ ”

Still, the early struggles were somewhat of a concern for a team that probably must win its final four league games to have a chance to play host to the Patriot tournament for the second straight year.

“I don’t expect to lose another league game,” Meade said. “Winning the Patriot League is a goal of ours. Playing in the Patriot League tournament, I don’t care where we play. I’d like to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but I’ll play anywhere. We’ll play on Brewer Avenue [in Annapolis].”

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