2013 NAVY MEN’S LACROSSE The History of Navy Lacrosse Of the 32 varsity sports which thrive at the Naval Academy, none surpasses lacrosse’s winning tradition that includes eight-consecutive National Championships among a total of 17 to date. Navy’s rich and storied heritage owes its origin to former Johns Hopkins players Frank Breyer and Bill Hudgins who volunteered in to help organize and coach Navy’s first collegiate team in 1908. Navy lacrosse owes its “Glory Years” largely to a Rutgers University graduate named Willis “Bildy” Bilderback whose record of nine National Championships in 14 years as head lacrosse coach is likely never to be matched. In addition to winning outright or sharing the collegiate national championship eight years in a row (1960-67), “Bildy’s” 1965 team was the first college team in 42 years to win both the National Collegiate Championship and the National Open Championship. More than 400 donors from the extended Navy lacrosse family composed of current and former players, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, team managers, and of course Navy lacrosse friends and parents around the globe made possible the Bilderback-Moore Navy Lacrosse Hall of Fame that opened in the summer of 2007. It honors heroes and champions who “carried a lacrosse stick” while they were Midshipmen, but it also signifies both the Naval Academy’s and the alumni’s commitment to support and extend Navy’s winning lacrosse tradition. Fittingly named after two superb gentlemen who left their indelible legacy in both the sport and Navy’s winning tradition, hundreds of heroes, champions, coaches and exceptional friends of Navy lacrosse have been enshrined. Included are two Medal of Honor recipients, 31 Navy Cross honorees, and 50 Silver Star winners among more than 400 former All-Americans in whose ranks are 13 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductees, 10 state Lacrosse Halls of Fame members, and 21 National Individual Award winners. Many more Navy Lacrosse alumni are recipients of Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. James Carrington, has special recognition in the Bilderback-Moore Lacrosse Hall of Fame as both a player and coach as he remains the only Midshipman since 1850 to receive All-America honors in three sports (lacrosse, football, and swimming). Of course, among the four National Coaches of The Year recognized in the Bilderback-Moore Hall of Fame are National Lacrosse Hall of Fame members William H. “Dinty” Moore for whom Jim Carrington played, and Bildy, for whom Jim coached. Many Navy lacrosse players have “given back” to this sport in a variety of ways that have clearly helped make lacrosse America’s fastest growing sport more than 100 years later! Among them are Ed Gibbons. Charlie Guy, the 1945 recipient of the Schmeisser Award, is one of nine Navy players to win the coveted award and also the former University of Virginia head coach who led the Cavaliers to their first National Championship. Jimmy Lewis ‘66 was the first college lacrosse player in Div. I history to win the Turnbull Award in three consecutive years and more than 40 years after graduating from the Academy, he is one of only three players to achieve the feat (Tim Nelson, Syracuse 1983-84-85; Michael Powell, Syracuse 2001-02-03-04). Glen Miles was the 1986 recipient of the MacLaughlin Award, named after Lt. j.g. Don MacLaughlin ’63, an All-American lacrosse player for the Midshipmen who was killed in action in Vietnam. Finally, the names Denny Wedekind ’65 and Mickey Jarboe 2000 are synonymous with some of the alltime greatest goalkeepers in lacrosse history, as both are two-time Kelly Award winners.
The Finlayson Years (1911-35)
On April 4, 1908, Navy played its first scheduled lacrosse game against its arch in-state rival still to this day, Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays handed Navy its first lacrosse defeat, and the team finished the season 1-2. However, it took Navy only two years with Blue
Jay mentors coaching to turn the tables on Johns Hopkins, winning 7-6 in 1910. Head Coach George Finlayson, took the reins as Navy’s extraordinary mentor from 1911-1935. He quickly brought Navy its first two undefeated seasons in 1912 and subsequently in 1914 (with a tie in each of those seasons). The outbreak of WWI led to the cancellation of the latter part of the lacrosse season in 1917, but ironically, the beginning of WWI also marked the start of a saga unique in college annals. Coach Finlayson expanded the cornerstone of Navy’s winning lacrosse tradition with seven undefeated seasons from 1917 through 1923 (one tie), a 40 game winning streak. In that seven–year span, Navy stood supreme among college lacrosse teams in the nation. In 1920, Navy surrendered just six goals in nine games, the launching of Navy’s reputation for outstanding individual and team defense. The following year, Navy’s defense was stout, giving up three goals in seven games and turning in five shutouts, while its powerful offense scored 84 goals. Coach Finlayson piloted the Mids through two more unbeaten seasons, but in 1924, Navy’s in-state rival Maryland handed the Mids their first defeat in eight years, 5-3. The highlight of the 1924 lacrosse season was Navy’s first game against, and victory over, its top rival- Army. The Mids beat the Black Knights 5-0 at West Point, handing Army its only loss that season. Finlayson’s 1925 and ’26 lacrosse teams dominated with back-to-back undefeated seasons. In just the second game played between Army and Navy, the Mids handed the Cadets their only loss, 3-2. Although low scoring, the 1925 game was described in a radio broadcast as “the most tense, the most thrilling, the most beautiful athletic contest ever seen on a field of sport.” By the end of the 1926 season, Coach Finlayson had eleven undefeated seasons (including three with one tie), but had not yet won a National Championship. In 1928, Navy shared its first National Championship with Johns Hopkins, Maryland and Rutgers, followed by its second in 1929 when Navy and Union College were both presented gold medals. George Finlayson completed his Navy coaching career in 1935 with a remarkable 82.9 winning percentage (140-25-10) over 25 years, second only to Navy’s Willis Bilderback who recorded an 83.0 winning percentage (131-26-2) between 1959-72. His record of 13 unbeaten seasons is unprecedented!
The Moore Years (1936-58)
Dinty Moore, a lacrosse icon, founder and coach of St. John’s College lacrosse, succeeded Finlayson in 1936. Over the next 23 years, Moore added six national lacrosse championships and national coach of the year honors to his stellar resume. His 1938 squad registered a 7-0 slate to claim the Wingate Trophy which the USILA first awarded in 1936 to the collegiate national champion. It took only four years for Moore’s Mids to reach the top again, as his 1943 squad won the national title outright. R.J. Booze ’44 established an Academy record for goals in a game with eight in a 20-6 victory over Drexel, a varsity record that has not been equaled in the years since. Navy won or shared the national title five times in the next dozen-year span from 1943 through 1954. In 1945, the Mids were forced to settle for a co-championship with arch rival Army after battling the Cadets to a 7-7 deadlock at the end of two overtime periods. Two-time All-American and team captain Charlie Guy became the first recipient of the Schmeisser Memorial Cup in 1945, awarded to the outstanding defenseman in the nation. Navy responded the following season by reclaiming the Wingate Trophy outright, finishing the 1946 season 8-1. Hopkins was their only loss, but the Mids triumphed over Army 12-10. Stewart McLean became college lacrosse’s first recipient of the Jack Turnbull
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Memorial Award in 1947, given to the most outstanding attackman in the nation. James “Lee” Chambers was only a plebe on that ’46 championship squad, but his contributions earned him First-Team All-American honors. Chambers was also named a First-Team All-American twice again before he graduated with numerous other awards including the Navy Sword for the most outstanding athlete in the graduating class. Captain of the ’49 Midshipmen, Chambers led the squad through a perfect 11-0 season; however, Navy was forced to share the title that year with the Blue Jays. The 1949 recipient of the Turnbull Trophy, Chambers’ 143 goals scored over four seasons still stands as a Navy record. After a four year absence from the spotlight, Moore’s 1954 squad made winning the national championship appear comparatively simple. The Mids opended the season with an 18-0 rout of Washington College, followed by a 21-2 thrashing of Harvard, and a 23-1 dumping of Penn State. Maryland fell to Navy 12-7, and that five goal spread was the closest any team would come to the Mids in a perfect 10-0 season. While the winning may have seemed easy on the field, the coaching took on a new angle—literally—during a mid-season contest with Duke. One of Dinty’s own attackmen accidentally hit him on the sideline as players went out of bounds, breaking the coach’s leg. Only after Navy had disposed of the Blue Devils, 17-3, was Moore carried to a hospital for treatment. He was confined to bed for three months, and permitted to use a wheelchair only once weekly. From that wheelchair, Dinty coached his ’54 team to a national title over Army. Ten members of his team were accorded All-American honors, including first-team selection Stanley Swanson, another Navy defenseman awarded the Schmeisser Cup. Moore had three undefeated squads during his career, with his teams losing only 10 games in his final five seasons. Dinty retired after the ’58 campaign, taking with him an impressive 23-year record of 159 wins, 50 losses and two ties. He helped mold 146 All-Americans, while his teams were outright national champs four times and co-champs twice. He was Navy Lacrosse’s ambassador and head coach who did it for the love of both the game and his players’ work ethic.
The Bilderback Years (1959-72)
It was the “Glory Years” or “Decade of Dominance” in Navy lacrosse, an era never to be equaled. The 1960s belonged, undeniably, to Navy. Plebe coach for 12 years, Willis Bilderback, or Bildy, succeeded Moore in 1959. From 1960-1967, the Midshipmen won eight consecutive national championships, winning outright in ’60, ’62 ’63,’64, ’65, and ‘66, and sharing it in ’61 with Army, while in ’67, Navy stood alongside Hopkins and Maryland as the tri-champions. During that eight-year span, Navy produced a 79-8 (.908) record and a decade mark of 96-14-1 (.869). The Mids won 25-consecutive games beginning with a season-opening victory over Rutgers on March 28, 1964, and ending four games into the 1966 campaign season. Coach Bilderback won his first national title in 1960, and coincidentally his last in 1970. This Decade of Dominance as many observers refer to it, had its underpinnings in team defense from goalies, close defensemen and waves of midfielders. His goal tenders received the Kelly Award four times as the best in the nation. His defensemen received the Schmeisser Cup as the nation’s best five times. Some say he redefined the game by combining recruits with prior experience and superior stick skills gained in high and prep school with a surprisingly large number of so-called in-house recruits among Navy’s highly-competitive and often nationally-ranked football teams. He was famous for virtually molding raw athletic talent in four years or less into All-American
2013 Navy Men's Lacrosse Media Guide