I was reading blog comments on Inside Lacrosse, and came across this gem (see the second comment). Here a commenter discusses a young 1960 Naval Academy lacrosse team. What an amazing story this is:
As a foremost authority on the history of lacrosse, allow me to point out what happened in the spring of 1960 when a young Navy team, led by captains Greg Becker and Stu Besch, came back from 15 goals down in the national semifinal game versus Harvard [I think he meant Hopkins here]. Navy’s goalie from the previous year, a portly hard-drinking plebe named Walt Wasileff, was shipped off to Korea, where he lost a foot and part of his hand after an explosion on the deck of his aircraft carrier. He was replaced by a young Lou Rawls (yes, that Lou Rawls, soul singer and star of many telethons), but unfortunately for Lou, Hopkins had no sympathy and poured in 13 first half goals as revenge for Wasileff’s shutting them out for the first time ever a year before.
At half time, trailing 13-0, the Navy players were already thinking of going home for a few weeks, checking up on mom and dad, and then heading off to war. Lacrosse seemed less and less important as the reality of war began to hit home. Five of their teammates from the 1957 team never came home from the war, and nobody was sure Wasileff would ever come home either. Last the team had heard, Walt was touch and go, clinging to life.
So when they heard a familiar voice growing nearer, in full sprint from the parking lot, already dressed in a uniform from the year before (a white one, and not Navy’s road blues), the Navy men thought they were seeing a ghost. After a lot of hugs and handshakes, Walt asked Low Rawls if he would mind coming out of the game. Lou calmly took off his jersey, handed it to Walt and said “You’ll need this…brother.”
Walt was carried into the goal, much to the amazement of Hopkins and their faithful fans. The first shot on Walt went in, and the second one trickled through his legs. “Zoinks!” he exclaimed. “That’s the last goal you ever every score against me Hopkins!!”
And he was right. Navy scored once. Then again, And again and again and again. With the score 15-14 Hopkins, and only fifteen seconds left, all hope seemed lost for the Navy men. But upon winning the face-off, Walt limped into the offensive zone with his big goalie stick, took a pass from Becker, then a deep breath, and fired a laser shot at the Hopkins goal. Ping! Ping! Off two goalposts and into the net!! In overtime, Navy attacker Besch scored a goal to give the Middies the victory in a game nobody will ever forget.
Update: May 15, 208 – 6:00pm
Another commenter has cast doubts on the statements made by the previous commenters. They assert the following:
* There were no playoffs back then so I don’t know where semifinals come from.
* Freshmen were not eligible back then, so a plebe goalie [Wasileff] could not have played in 1959.
* Navy beat Hopkins 15-7 in 1960. Possible that we were up 7-0 I guess, but seems unlikely.
* There’s nobody in the Navy all-time roster named Walt Wasileff.
Hmm; so maybe the storybook story is not true after-all.
[From Mids on a Mission comments. Inside Lacrosse Blog]