(Photo Courtesy of Navy Athletics)
Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.
Head Coach: Joe Amplo (4th year, 2020-present)
Navy 2022 Record: 9-6 (5-3 Patriot League)
Key Departures: Nick Cole (A), Augie Fratt (SSDM), Jacob Jarosz (FO)
Key Returners: Patrick Skalniak (M), Dane Swanson (M), Henry Tolker (A), Jackson Bonitz (D), Nick LiCalzi (D), Kyle Fairbanks (D), Zach Snider (LSM), Pat Ryan (G), Nate Hammond (FO)
The Navy Midshipmen are heading into the fourth year of the Joe Amoplo era and coming off a 2022 campaign in which they went 9-6 and saw their season end with an 14-8 loss against Lehigh in the Patriot League quarterfinals.
Navy’s 2022 season could very well be described as an up-and-down one. They started the year with an upset loss against Mount St. Mary’s in Annapolis and had a stretch in early April in which they gave up a combined 35 goals in back to back weeks against Boston U. and Loyola while also failing to reach double-digits in both games. However, an overtime victory over rival Army West Point followed up by a 13-6 win against Bucknell a week later saw the Midshipmen end the regular season on a high note.
Heading into the 2023 season, Navy returns a decent amount of talent, and younger talent at that, on both ends of the field. And while there are certainly questions as to what this team will be, the promising talent is still there.
What Can The Michael Phipps Offense Do?
After five seasons as the offensive coordinator at Georgetown, Michael Phipps has returned to Annapolis to serve in the same position for Joe Amplo and the Navy Midshipmen. He previously served in the same role on Rick Sowell’s staff from 2015-2017, helping lead the Midshipmen to an NCAA Quarterfinal appearance in 2016. Now back at Navy after helping lead a Georgetown offense that averaged 15.06 in 2022, will this Midshipmen offense look like and what can they accomplish?
Last season, Navy averaged 10.6 goals per game and featured a midfield-focused unit as Patrick Skalniak (28G/20A) and Dane Swanson (21G/17A) led the way as the Midshipmen’s top two point-getters. Phipps at Georegtown had a much more attack-led offense with players such as Dan Bucao, Jake Carraway, Dylan Watson, and others being the quarterback of the Hoyas offense during the Phipps era. Now walking into this Navy locker room, how will this offense look under Phipps in year one?
Furthermore, can Phipps’s guide this offense to greener pasture than those that they occupied last season?
Xavier Arline’s Impact?
A dual-sport athlete playing both quarterback in football and attackman in lacrosse for the Midshipmen, Arline took to the lacrosse field for the first time in his career at the Naval Academy on March 5th against Lehigh and would play a total of six games. That included starting each of the past three contests. His best performance of the season came in the rivalry game against Army where he had two goals and two assists.
Having returned to the lacrosse field for the first time in two years, what kind of impact will Arline have in 2023. Given that he is healthy and ready to go when the season starts up, running him at that X attack spot like he did at times last season, including the win over Army.
Arline brings a ton of skill, speed, and athleticism to this program. Put in the right places and kept healthy, he could very well be a major force for this Navy offense and help provide a spark at the attack spot that they often lacked a season ago.
Can The Faceoff Unit Improve?
Last season, Navy ranked seventh (out of nine) in team faceoff percentage in the Patriot League. The Midshipmen had no player with a 50% or greater success rate at the dot. Nate Hammond took the majority of draws last season, going 92-for-186 (49.5%) whole Jacob Jarsoz went 53-for-110 (48.2%) as the primary backup.
With the graduation of Jarsoz, Hammond returns this fall as the top option at the faceoff at will be looking to improve his overall performance from a year ago. He will certainly want to have performances like he did against Colgate (64%), Bucknell (62%), and Army (51%) last season. And it should be mentioned that an experienced talent like Jarsoz won’t be waiting in the wings as a reliever or second option and not much depth returns at all. Nate Ghobriel is the only other returning faceoff man. He went 6-for-16 (37.5%) in three games as a freshman last spring.
Potential Breakout Player
Sam Dracobly, Midfield, Senior
This one was tough and especially so with the amount of talent Navy brings back on both ends. Dracobly showed promise as a second line midfielder last season, nothing five goals and four assists for nine points on the year. He started had a hat trick against Mercer and got one start (at Lafayette).
The Midshipmen bring in a 16-man freshman class that is headlined by midfielder Paul Garza (Walkersville, Md.). The righty midfielder is athletic as they come and at the high school level has shown an innate ability to get get his hands free in nearly every situation and sting the back of the net. Midfielder Jack Flaherty (Chaminade, N.Y.) and attackman Mac Haley (St. John’s, D.C.) are another pair of offensive standouts that help highlight the class.