- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2011

ANNAPOLIS | A few years ago, Sam Jones wasn’t sure if he would even get into the Naval Academy. Tucker Hull was incredulous when his first piece of recruiting mail came from Navy.

Now, the pair are crucial pieces to the Midshipmen’s burgeoning attack as freshmen entering Friday’s date at Georgetown.

Jones and Hull are the top two scorers for Navy (4-5), which has three one-goal losses to create a deceiving record entering its game with the Hoyas (3-4). But aside from Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Colgate, the Mids’ offense has performed well - in large part because of their talented newcomers.

“I think the success me and Tucker have had and us as an offense in general is more the offense we play in,” Jones said. “Scoring goals is easy when you have teammates that are drawing people and you’re wide open.”

The pair took vastly different paths. Jones was raised on Navy lacrosse, attending games for more than a decade while growing up in Annapolis. His father, David, was a Navy co-captain in 1982. His grandfather, Jack, was a two-time All-America goalie and helped the Mids win the 1954 national title.

Sam Jones always considered Navy his ideal destination. It didn’t mean he anticipated he would be on the precipice of becoming the first freshman to score 20 goals for the Mids since 2005.

“If you told me three years ago, ‘When you’re a freshman at Navy, you’re going to be starting on attack.’ I’ve always been a confident guy, and I try to live confidently and believe I can do things, so I wouldn’t have laughed at you,” said Jones, who has 19 goals and 10 assists. “But I would have sat there and said, ‘All right. Let’s not get overzealous.’ I didn’t see it coming, but it’s been a dream come true.”

Meanwhile, Hull was originally from central New York and, like so many in the Syracuse area, made an annual Memorial Day pilgrimage to the lacrosse Final Four. While in middle school, his family moved to the Charlotte, N.C., area and he matured as a player far from the sport’s hotbeds.

Still, college programs took notice - including Navy, which was the first school to send Hull a recruiting letter.

“Originally, when I got the letter, I just laughed,” Hull said. “I was like, ‘No way.’ “

But eventually he visited Navy and came away impressed. Last year, he and Jones were teammates at the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS), which helped the two grow accustomed to each other.

That proved important when the Mids lost one of last year’s starters to graduation (Brendan Connors) and another to injury (Ryan O’Leary). The other attackman, Andy Warner, moved to midfield.

“We do play similar styles, and we think alike, but even with that we have different strengths,” said Hull, who has 16 goals and 13 assists. “We play to each other’s strengths. Especially having played together at NAPS, it’s like having a head start on everyone else.”

Not to mention one on their promising careers. Jones and Hull are poised to become the first pair of freshmen in program history to both reach 20 goals.

“They’re better than we thought they were going to be, up until this point,” coach Richie Meade said. “We’re now in April. We’re now [facing] the reality of where we are and what’s in front of us. They’re playing better than we kind of anticipated, but we knew they were good.”



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