Varello Ties School Record in Mids’ Loss to #9 Loyola
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Despite a phenomenal performance by Navy senior Joe Varello (Kings Park, N.Y.) who tied the single-game school record with 21 faceoff wins, Loyola All-American attackman Pat Spencer countered with a school-record tying 12-point day to lead the ninth-ranked Greyhounds (5-2, 3-0 Patriot League) to a 15-9 victory over the Mids (4-4, 3-1 PL) Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“Too many mistakes, too many mistakes, too many mistakes,” said seventh-year Navy head coach Rick Sowell in his opening statement. “We couldn’t afford to make the mistakes we made today and Loyola took advantage of those mistakes. Loyola is a good team and we fought hard, but we just couldn’t string enough goals together to get momentum on our side.”
Navy dominated the first 15 minutes of the game thanks in part to Varello winning four of the five draws. The Mids outshot the Greyhounds, 18-5, and picked up 14 ground balls compared to Loyola’s two in the opening quarter. Navy’s dominance in the stat categories translated on the scoreboard, as it raced out to a 3-1 lead and featured back-to-back goals by senior co-captain Jack Ray (Wyckoff, N.J.). The margin could have been much larger for the Mids had it not been for the stout play by Hounds goalkeeper Jacob Stover, who recorded seven of his 12 saves in the opening quarter.
Although the Mids continued to gain possession from the faceoff “x” in the second quarter, six turnovers combined with the hot shooting of Loyola proved to be stifling for the Mids who went without a goal for better than 13 minutes. During that scoring drought, Spencer helped spark a 4-0 run by the Hounds with Spencer playing a role in all four goals (1G, 3A).
After Loyola gained a 5-3 advantage with under six minutes to go in the half, Navy fought its way back to a tie game by the break. Attackman Chris Hill (Sr / Novato, Calif.) found rookie Christian Daniel (Owings, Md.) wide open in the middle, who’s leaping one-timer closed the gap to within one at the 2:34 mark. The goal was just the second shot of the quarter Navy, as the Mids did not take a shot until the three-minute mark. Navy won the ensuing faceoff and Ray once again worked his magic from the crease, turning to the outside to get his hands free for the game-tying strike at 2:08.
Loyola came out of the locker room guns a blazing, scoring five straight goals to take a 10-5 lead. Senior middie Jay Drapeau scored a pair of goals during the run, while Spencer pitched in a pair of assists and a goal.
Navy would finally get on the scoreboard with 4.0 seconds left in the third when Varello won the faceoff and found long-stick midfielder Jeff Durden (Fr / Cumming, Ga.) for what would be his first collegiate goal and Varello’s first collegiate assist.
The Hounds pushed their lead to six at 12-6 with two quick goals to open the fourth quarter.
Navy answered with a run of its own, scoring three in a row by Varello, Hill and Daniel, but the Mids would be without a goal for the final 9:21 of the game and Loyola targeted three more for a 15-9 win.
Ray paced the Mids with three goals and extended his point-scoring streak to 10 straight games, while Daniel finished with two goals. Ryan Wade (Jr / Coronado, Calif.) recorded a goal and an assist and ran his team-best point-scoring streak to 18 consecutive games and 15 games in a row with an assist.
Varello, who has enjoyed a sensational senior campaign, won 21 of the 28 draws, grabbed a career-high 14 ground balls, scored his second collegiate goal and dealt out his first career assist. The 21 faceoff wins equals the program high set by former teammate Brady Dove against Maryland on Feb. 11, 2017 and later equaled against Lehigh on March 25, 2017. The 21 faceoff wins also ties the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium record. Varello’s 14 ground balls tied for the second most in school history with Logan West (vs. Bucknell, 3.3.12) after Dove set the record with 17 against Lehigh a year ago.
“We knew that Joe was a good faceoff guy, we just happened to have Brady on our team, as well, for Joe’s first three years. He’s probably better this season in not only winning the faceoff, but making sure that we play offense and possess the ball.”
Spencer finished the game with 12 points on four goals and eight assists. He matched the 12 points put up by Gary Hanley in an April 25, 1979 game over Morgan State University. Spencer’s 12 are the second most in Patriot League history and are the most by a Loyola player since the Greyhounds moved to NCAA Division I in 1982. The 12 points are also tied for the most in a game this season by an Division I player this season, matching the total put up by the Albany’s Connor Fields earlier this season.
“Pat Spencer is a special player,” said Sowell. “I spoke to Coach Van (Loyola Offensive Coordinator Marc Van Arsdale) after the game and he said he thinks Spencer is the best player he’s ever coached. That tells ou how good he is, the type of player is is. Coach Van has coached quite a few really good players, so it says an awful lot.
Meanwhile, Drapeau and rookie attackman Aidan Olmstead also punched in four goals.
Navy finished the game with 17 turnovers with only six unforced errors thanks to the play of Preseason Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Foster Huggins who ecorded five caused turnovers, while sophomore long-stick midfielder Ryan McNulty posted three takeaways.
The Midshipmen return to action next Saturday when they travel to Bethlehem, Pa. to battle another Patriot League unbeaten in Lehigh (6-2, 4-0 PL). Action is slated for 3:00 pm at the Ulrich Sports Complex. A free live video stream will be available on PatriotLeague.TV, while the game will also be carried live on 1430 AM / 99.9 FM WNAV with Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller on the call beginning at 2:45 pm.
### Go Navy ###