- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2006

ANNAPOLIS — A new cast of defensemen produced a familiar result for the Navy lacrosse team last night.

The sixth-ranked Midshipmen kept Ohio State scoreless for more than 20 minutes to open the game, then held off the Buckeyes 9-3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Ian Dingman, Billy Looney and Nick Mirabito each had two goals and goalie Matt Russell made 10 saves as Navy won its home opener.

“We made mistakes, but fortunately it’s been well advertised that we have Matt Russell,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “I thought we played a solid game defensively.”

The Mids (2-0), traditionally known for their stingy defense, lost defensemen Mitch Hendler and Mike Felber and long pole Seth DiNola to graduation after last season. The reliable unit helped Navy surrender a nation-best average of 6.63 goals and reach the NCAA quarterfinals.

With sophomores Jordan DiNola and Brendan Teague joining holdover Andrew Dow as starters on close defense and Thomas Zimmerman receiving plenty of time at long pole, it wouldn’t have been surprising if the unit struggled early in the season as it became accustomed to both the scheme and playing with each other.

It hasn’t happened in Navy’s first two games. The Mids have only surrendered five goals, and the Buckeyes (0-2) never made a sustained attack after a flurry of shots in the first few minutes.

“They’re doing exceptionally well,” Russell said. “They’re so disciplined. They don’t have any bad habits to break because they haven’t been in there yet. They’re so solid and they’re so calm and that’s the biggest thing.”

Dingman also looked comfortable in his first home game since being reinstated to the academy last August. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound junior had two assists as part of an efficient offensive attack.

The Buckeyes had a few chances in the opening minutes, peppering Russell with saves before the goalie was called for slashing. However, reserve Colin Finnegan made a pair of saves and Navy went on to score the first six goals.

“We played well because the defense played well,” Dingman said. “Colin Finnegan came in and made two huge saves back-to-back and we got the ball and we got the momentum. Once the defense did their part, it was time for us to do ours.”

The Midshipmen endured a scoring drought of more than 16 minutes, permitting the Buckeyes to pull within 6-3. Yet the Buckeyes’ hopes for a rally ended shortly after defenseman Ricky Pages drilled Looney and earned a two-minute penalty. Looney stumbled off, but came back after a timeout.

He quickly contributed upon his return during the extra-man opportunity. He slipped a pass to Dingman, who was perched 5 yards from goal on the left wing and zipped a shot past Buckeyes goalie Drew May (six saves) to make it 7-3.

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