Navy Steams by Lafayette in 2nd Half in Patriot Semifinal

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Anchored by junior attackman Andy Warner's (Corning, N.Y.) career-high four goals, the Navy men's lacrosse team (7-7) used a nine-goal second half to score an 11-9 come-from-behind win over third-seeded Lafayette (8-6) Friday evening in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals held at Army's Michie Stadium. Winners of five of the six previous tournaments, Navy will make its sixth appearance in the Patriot League finals when it battles arch rival Army on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

“Getting by this team was a big deal for us,” said Navy head coach Richie Meade, who has directed the Mids to an 11-1 all-time record in the Patriot League Tournament. “The last time we played, Lafayette kicked our butts. They won every phase of the game, including the battle of will and the battle of emotion. Today we started out exactly the same way as we did that night. We had to come a long way to stop it and come back. Our team has this quality to fight. I'm thankful for the win.”

Lafayette grabbed the early lead when middie Kevin Dunbar fed All-Patriot League attackman Tom Perini, who threaded his shot past 2010 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) at the 12:29 mark.

The Midshipmen tied things up at the five-minute mark when sophomore attackman Ryan O'Leary (East Meadow, N.Y.) caught leading scorer Patrick Moran (Annapolis, Md.) cutting from the left wing. Moran stuck his five-yarder to push his season goal total to 24.

Lafayette, however, scored the final two goals of the opening quarter, including a wrap-around shot by Matt Mersky with 30.6 seconds remaining to take a 3-1 advantage into the second quarter.

Navy trimmed the lead to one just under four minutes into the second quarter on a crank shot by O'Leary. But less than a minute later, a bouncer by Colin Serling sparked a three-goal run by the Leopards, giving Lafayette a 6-2 lead at the break.

“I told the guys at the half, 'there's nothing I can say to you to turn this around, you're going to have to do it yourself,'” said Meade.

“They were outhustling us,” said All-Patriot League defenseman Michael Hirsch (Schwenksville, Pa.). “They are a hard-working, scrappy bunch of guys.”

“We just didn't come out mentally prepared,” added Warner. “We have this thing about starting out slow ... that needs to change for us to be successful.”

And it did in the second half. Eerily similar to last week's Johns Hopkins contest, the Mids managed to put together a 5-0 run in the third quarter to get back into the game. The run was led by last week's hero Warner, who scored the game-winner against Hopkins in overtime. Warner scored an extra-man goal, his eighth of the year, at the 13:10 mark and then fired off a 10-yarder just nine seconds later to narrow Lafayette's lead to 6-4.

For the second straight game, the Mids got help from the opposition in the scoring column. Lafayette defenseman Paul Hammer came up with a loose ball and as he was being pressured by the Mids, he turned back towards the goal and threw the ball in the direction of his teammate. In doing so, however, his pass caught the inside of the right post and into the net at the 9:24 mark.

Just over 30 seconds later, Moran found senior attackman Brendan Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) three yards in front of the crease for the game-tying goal. Navy took its first lead of the game at the 7:18 mark when Warner took the extra step on his defender and sent an eight-yard shot high from the left wing.

The Mids held their lead for nearly six minutes before Serling ran in from the right wing untouched and powered in his shot past Wickham.

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