Navy vs. Lehigh
March 24, 2006
The Game Story:
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Attack men Jon Birsner (Levittown, N.Y.) and Ian Dingman (Deferiet, N.Y.) combined to score five goals and add five assists, leading the eighth-ranked Navy lacrosse team to a 9-4 victory over Patriot League foe Lehigh Friday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference with just two remaining Patriot League contests on the slate.

"We did the things that we needed to do to beat a good Lehigh team," said Navy head coach Richie Meade. "Lehigh is a much better team than they were three years ago when we first joined the league.

"Offensively, we really responded well after our performance last week," Meade added. "I would have liked for us to play more consistently on offense, but overall I thought we played well."

A week after Navy's starting attack was held scoreless on a combined 17 shots, the trio of Birsner, Dingman and sophomore Nick Mirabito (Binghamton, N.Y.) did a complete 180. Dingman erupted for three goals, including a spectacular extra-man goal to start the fourth quarter in which Birsner fed him the ball and with his back to the goal, Dingman side-armed a shot to give the Mids a 7-3 lead.

Birsner, meanwhile, found the back of the net twice on his own, while feeding Dingman three times and Mirabito midway through the opening quarter. Birsner's goal in the fourth quarter was textbook, as he curled around the left side of the goal and quickly shot a goal at Lehigh keeper John Park's feet.

On the afternoon, the Mids' starting attack scored six goals on 13 shots and added five assists.

"The thing coach emphasized going into this week of practice is that if we are going to be as good of a team as what we claim to be, then we have to respond," said co-captain Birsner. "We were more focused this week. Not that we weren't focused last week, but everything seems easy when you're winning. We got a little bit of a reality check and I think we responded well today."

Junior Billy Looney (Silver Spring, Md.) scored the first and last goals for the Midshipmen. Looney, who has scored five goals in the last two games, put Navy on the scoreboard less than a minute into the contest, taking a Dingman pass and firing it in over Park's right shoulder from 15 yards out. Looney's final goal, however, was an underhand shot that looked as though it had been shot out of a cannon. Credit older brother, Steve, with the assist.

Navy got up on the Mountain Hawks 4-0 before Alec Hoof fired in a shot from 10 yards out past Navy keeper Matt Russell (Madison, Conn.) at 1:50 in the first stanza. The Mids held a 6-1 lead at the half and with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Lehigh put together a mini run. Marino and Hoof hooked up once again, as Hoof scored on an identical shot from the first quarter and a minute later a shot by Blake Best bounced its way into the goal to narrow Navy's lead to 6-3 with 3:21 remaining in the third period.

Navy and Lehigh traded goals in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, but back-to-back goals by Birsner and Looney salted the game away.

"I think Lehigh's experience of beating Army earlier in the year taught them how to hang in there," said Meade. "We were a little impatient on offense early in the third quarter and our defense had to be on the field a lot. For the amount of time Lehigh had the ball in the third quarter, coming out of it with just two goals scored against you is pretty good defense."

Navy outshot the Mountain Hawks, 28-12, while Lehigh won the ground ball battle, 37-30. Face-offs were even with eight wins apiece and perhaps the best sign for Meade's Mids was their ability to clear the ball (11-15, .733).

The Midshipmen return to action Sunday when they play host to Holy Cross at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Face-off is slated for 12:00 pm.