VMI lax drops opener at Navy

After a slow start on the defensive end of the field, the VMI lacrosse held strong in the second half, but could not undo a 10-goal first half by the Navy Midshipmen, falling 14-7 in the 2012 season opener.

VMI, led by second-year head man Brian Anken, held Navy to just four goals in the second half at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

“Every loss is tough and this one especially because there is a lot of excitement for the first game of the year,” said Anken of the set back. “We as a staff try to pull positives out of every scenario and we had more positives than negatives. We have some stuff we need to work on, and we always will, … but nothing that can’t be fixed.”

VMI (0-1) was led by five different goal scorers, including a pair each from Keith Long and Chris DeBlasio. Long was the Keydets’ leading point getter on the afternoon, dishing out a pair of helpers.

But the Navy duo of Sam Jones and Tucker Hill stole the show as Jones finished with nine points on five goals a four assists. Hill buried six shots and had a pair of assists. The pair accounted for nearly all of Navy’s offense, as the Mids (1-0) got goals from just three other players.

Between the pipes, senior Kelly McMinn played well, making 14 saves including several in tight quarters. Along with McMinn, the Keydets did not allow a goal on four man-down situations, including a two-man down span in the third quarter.

Face-offs were a battle all day as VMI senior Stephen Robarge, who was named Preseason Honorable Mention All-America in December, went 15-24 on the afternoon, collecting a game-high seven groundballs.

VMI struggled in transition early in the game, but made adjustments after the first quarter. In the opening stanza, VMI went five-of-10, but worked out the kinks and finished the game going 13-18 in the final three quarters.

In the extra-man game, VMI went one-for-three as Chris Kitchen logged the game’s only man-up goal, getting the assist from Long.

The day opened with a pair of Keydet goals, including the first goal of the season from Tyler Griffith, whose father played lacrosse at the Naval Academy. Griffith pushed the game’s first shot past Navy netminder RJ Whickam, finishing on a pass from Long just 25 seconds into the fresh season.

Mike DeBlasio wasted no time scoring his first goal for the red and gold, capitalizing on a chance nearly five minutes into the game. After back-cutting his defender, the freshman received a pass from Tyler Prasnicki to put the Keydets ahead 2-0.

But the Mids, under first-year head coach Rick Sowell, rattled off six straight goals to end the first stanza, and continued to score in the second, notching a seventh-straight goal 20 seconds into the second quarter.

The Keydets halted the run with another pair of goals, getting one each from Long and Kitchen, both coming unassisted.

Once again the Midshipmen rattled off several straight goals and extending their lead to 10-4 before Long had the finally tally of the first half with just under two and half minutes to go. VMI was behind 10-5 at the break.

Both teams escaped the first half without being penalized, but they made up for it in the second half as Navy got four man-up chances and the Keydets got three. But the man-down unit for VMI locked down Navy’s extra-man set and did not allow a goal.

The two squads got their defensive units settled and the teams combined for just six goals in the final 30 minutes.

VMI will head to West Point, N.Y. for a second-straight game against a service academy as the Keydets take on the US Military Academy (Army). Action is set for noon at Michie Stadium.


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