- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — It takes most college athletes time to figure things out, a few years to fine-tune everything to ensure past pitfalls aren’t repeated.

And so it went for Navy lacrosse defenseman Brendan Teague.

“This year, I think I’ve still been doing the same thing,” Teague said. “I think I’ve been a little more reserved, trying to be more of a senior type of player.”

On the surface, that isn’t a terribly unusual comment. But the senior wasn’t describing his level of play as the No. 8 Midshipmen (9-3) prepare to play host to No. 10 Johns Hopkins (4-5) this afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Teague was talking about his ability to play with the same stick for more than a few games.

The three-year starter is known for his steady solid play, but he also earned a rep for going through shafts at a once-a-week rate.

Take a meeting with Georgetown last year, when Teague delivered a crosscheck on one of the Hoyas’ big midfielders and came away with a twisted titanium pole with both ends pointing in nearly the same direction, not to mention the need for a new piece of equipment.

“He comes out with some different [looks],” senior defenseman Jordan DiNola said. “His poles after games will look like an S-curve.”

Teague is more than a little responsible for that. At 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds, he is a physical presence on a defense traditionally known for relying more on cohesiveness than brawn to shut down opponents.

The Mids, though, receive plenty of both traits from Teague.

“He’s perfect,” coach Richie Meade said. “I always kid him and say to him ‘Are you going to foul out today?’ All the referees, they talk to each other and say number 5 at Navy is a physical guy.”

Navy’s known that for a while.

DiNola recalled a practice incident two years ago, when Teague separated two of attackman Nick Mirabito’s ribs. But both agree Teague has shown more restraint this year, even as he has produced a generally dominant season as part of what is easily the nation’s top scoring defense, yielding 5.25 goals a game.

But does that mean Navy’s equipment manager isn’t shuddering when Teague approaches? Could it be he has not broken a shaft this season?

“I don’t know, maybe one,” Teague conceded.

So old habits die hard. But his play remains strong, and it’s one of the reasons the Midshipmen could finally snap a 33-game losing streak to Johns Hopkins that includes one-goal losses the last three years.

It could be Navy’s final home game of the season and would only burnish Teague’s record of resiliency.

“He doesn’t really get shaken by me,” Meade said. “I’ve gotten after him a few times. Usually, I’ll go up to a kid after I’ve got after him a bit and say ‘Are you OK?’ and he says ‘Coach, I understand. It doesn’t bother me.’ ”

Spoken just like a guy who has figured it out — both in improving his game and maintaining his equipment — over the last four years.

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