ANNAPOLIS, Md - Defense took center stage in today's contest on a fowl weather day at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. In a game plagued by sloppy fundamentals and numerous turnovers it was quite appropriate that the heated battle began with an illegal procedure call off the opening face- off. From there on out Navy's face-off specialist Mikelis Visgauss dominated the X, going seven for eleven on draws.
Sophomore attackman Austin Winter struck first for the Bison off an assist from fellow attacker Joe Mele. From eight yards out on the righty wing Winter dropped his stick low and snapped a beautiful top shelf stunner over the shoulder of Navy's Goalkeeper Matt Coughlin. Minutes later Navy responded with a goal of their own as sophomore Joe Lennon fired a shot past Bison Goalkeeper Nick Sciubba. Off the assist from Tim Paul, Lennon spotted up from 12 yards out ripping a low off hip shot knotting the score at one apiece, to put an end to a sluggish first quarter of play.
With both offenses struggling to settle into their groove early in the second quarter, it was time for someone to step up and make a play. Junior defensive midfielder Geoff Leone did just that by displaying his Strong Island athleticism carrying the ball coast to coast setting up his first collegiate goal. Leone penetrated the offensive zone looking to create, but instead took it upon himself to finish his 80 yard tear rifling a 15 yard bullet. His high heat blistered Scuibbia and sent him to the bench for the remainder of the game. Replacing Scuibbia was Maryland local Matt Antonelli. Antonelli stood strong as he stepped into a heavy line of fire registering eleven saves on the day. Navy held onto a slim 2-1 advantage at the end of the first half.
As the rain picked up the pace of the game slowed down leaving both teams scoreless in the third period. Bucknell's offense displayed crisp ball movement but was unable to score due to Navy's unyielding defense lead by senior Brendan Teague and Junior Andy Tormey. After today's stellar performance Navy's defense has only relinquished 36 goals in the last eight games. The best scoring opportunity in the third quarter came from Navy's Goaltender Matt Coughlin as he lofted a full field shot just wide of the cage after recognizing Bucknell's ten man ride.
The Bison came out firing on all cylinders to begin the fourth quarter but Navy's Goaltender Matt Coughlin put up a brick wall. With 10:46 remaining in the fourth quarter the laundry began to fly leaving Navy two men down off back to back penalties. The first of two penalties was committed by sophomore midfielder Mike Beggins for slashing, followed by a one minute illegal body check committed by senior defensemen Brendan Teague. Bucknell was able to capitalize off of the two man advantage when Austin Winter mustered up his second goal on the day. With 10:13 remaining in the fourth freshmen attackman Ryan Klipstein set up Winter for a 12 yard high to high heat beating Navy's Matt Coughlin. Winter's goal evened the battle at two apiece. Shortly there after Goaltender Matt Coughlin left the game with a mild hamstring strain. Coughlin commented on his injury, adding "My injury is nothing serious, I just didn't feel I could give 100 percent in the net."
As Junior Tommy Phelan stepped in cage for the Midshipmen the game began to heat up as Bucknell knew it was time to take advantage of the sidelined drenched Goaltender. At the same time junior midfielder Shane Durkin would not let the loss on the defensive end take the wind out of Navy's sails. It took until 5:04 left in regulation for Durkin to get Navy back on the board but he did so with style. Durkin's radar picked up the early slide but as he turned to resettle he noticed the slide had backed off leaving an open lane for a quick score. Durkin has long since made the transition from sub to starter, from fiction to fact as he gave the Midshipmen a one goal lead.
With 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter and down by one Bucknell called a timeout to discuss offensive strategy. Out of the timeout Bucknell's strategy seemed to have payed off as senior midfielder Nick Marks tied the game unassisted with 2:27 remaining. Marks created space off his dodge leaving him a clear left handed jump shot finding the back off the net.
Bucknell would gain possession once again with 1:33 remaining in regulation. The Bison attack ran down the clock leaving only twenty seconds left as Austin Winter dodged from behind. Winter drew the quick slide and was stripped by Navy's Brendan Teague. Navy's Geoff Leone scooped up his fourth ground ball of the day and hauled down field with fourteen seconds remaining. With single digits on the clock Leone found curling attackman Greg Clement who fired off a quick shot ricocheting off Antonelli's helmet. With three seconds left Navy's Bobby Lennon found himself on the receiving end off the ricochet setting him up with a potential game winning buzzer beater that sailed high sending the game into overtime.
Navy's Basil Daratsos came out of the huddle firing, creating the first shot in overtime, but was saved by Antonelli. Antonelli began the clear with an outlet pass to his nearest defender, but as Navy cut off all outlet options he was left with no choice but to send the ball deep into the offensive end overthrowing his attackman before trickling out of bounds. Navy recovered the Bucknell turnover and went to work on offense. With 1:20 remaining in OT senior attackman Nick Mirabito found a wide open Tim Paul for the game winner. As Mirabito dodged from behind the cage he skipped a no look pass through the Bison defense setting up Paul's filthy underhand riser.
Nick Mirabito has proved he is not just a playground legend as his streak continues. With today's assist Mirabito has recorded a point (goal/assist) in 53 out of the past 54 games in which he has played. He is pacing the team with 30 points on 13 goals and 17 assists. Mirabito added, "I'm not worried about the streak, all I know is that big time players, make big time plays, in big time games."
Navy is back in action on Easter Sunday as they travel to Hamilton, New York to face patriot league foe Colgate. The Bison return to action this Tuesday as they travel to Baltimore to take on Towson.
|Tim Paul||(1, 1)|
|Shane Durkin||(1, 0)|
|Joe Lennon||(1, 0)|
|Geoff Leone||(1, 0)|
|Nick Mirabito||(0, 1)|
|Matt Coughlin||10 (0.833)|
|Tommy Phelan||0 (0.000)|