Air pipes

Navy buoyed by relentless play between goalkeeper Jo Torres’ posts


Navy buoyed by relentless play between goalkeeper Jo Torres’ posts

PHOTO COURTESY OF NAVY ATHLETICS

Navy sophomore goaltender Jo Torres ranks fourth nationally with a 51.9 save percentage.

When the Navy women’s lacrosse took on Lehigh in late March, things initially looked unsettling for the contenders. Trailing by three goals in less than 10 minutes, Navy desperately needed a change of momentum.

Sophomore goaltender Jo Torres provided just that.

Blow after blow, Torres was relentless. Seemingly all over the place, she stopped four straight late in the first quarter to keep the Mountain Hawks on their toes.

At the final whistle, the Navy had taken over. Hard play from Torres, including 11 saves, and the energetic offense of the Midshipmen, who scored 11 goals over the last three quarters, put Navy on top. Their efforts gave the contenders their first victory over Lehigh since 2019.

“We were ready,” Torres said. “We were prepared. We knew we had to beat them because the last time [in the 2021 Patriot League quarterfinals] it was horrible to lose in overtime against them, but we knew we had a lot to do [this time].”

Just before the game against Lehigh, Navy lost a close 13-12 decision to Georgetown. Since then, the contenders have gone 5-0, easily managing a roster consisting of only Patriot League games.

Torres has been key for Navy throughout that streak, emerging as a defensive star in his second season in the cage. She ranks fourth nationally with a 51.9 save percentage and helped Navy rank fourth nationally in point defense.

A member of the high school class of 2020, Torres didn’t finish his senior season near St. Mary’s Annapolis, Md., didn’t have a typical fall prom season his freshman year, and played a abbreviated schedule, mainly Patriot League Last spring. Her first game for the aspirants came against Army, where she recorded a 10-save second half to secure a narrow one-goal win.

Torres said she gradually gained confidence as she played more over the past year. Starting a few games his freshman year gave a boost. Playing a robust and competitive fall ball schedule against programs like Syracuse, North Carolina and Maryland also helped.

Another big source was the encouragement from her defensive teammates, many of whom are experienced upperclassmen.

“They’re the ones telling me, ‘Jo, you got it,'” Torres said. “They are the ones who give me confidence. They know I’m going to be out there ready to save the ball, and I know they’re going to do everything in their power to force bad shots. They give me a lot of confidence and I trust them.

While Torres is a sophomore, many of the defenders around him are seasoned veterans. Senior defensemen Alexis Bell, Grace Loughery and Christine Fiore and junior defenseman Erin Carson all played crucial roles for the unit, prompting double-digit turnovers and ground balls. Unlike many adversaries, the Navy does not have graduate students on its team per academy policy.

With the number of calls going against the defense, players have to be tough, coach Cindy Timchal said. The top class contenders have embodied that mindset this year, Timchal said, while playing selflessly and leading the team together.

With the ups and downs of lacrosse during the pandemic, Timchal said she was “surprised and excited” to see the growth and perseverance of her players over the past year. Tenacity and tenacity have been key to the Navy’s growth and success since the pandemic, she said.

“Tough times don’t last forever, but in our case, tough players do,” Timchal said. “The key is to be resilient, to know mistakes are going to be made, to understand that lacrosse is fun and free. But so many of the teams we face are just tough teams, so you have to be tough.