The top seeded Navy Midshipmen men’s lacrosse team stays at home in Annapolis on Friday afternoon to host the Patriot League Tournament. Navy will take on academy rivals, and number the number four seed, when they face Army in a game that starts at 4:30 p.m. This game is then followed by a second semi-final that features second seed Loyola taking on third seeded Bucknell. The two winners will meet in the championship game at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. All games will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
If this all feels a little like déjà vu you can be forgiven. This is the second straight season in which the two service academies have met in the Patriot League semis, and thus the second straight season where the two teams have faced off twice in a season. The two teams played an overtime classic less than two weeks ago on April 16, a thriller that Navy won 11-10 in overtime. The way the Mids played late in that game will give the team a huge confidence boost as they know they can wear down and get the better of Army.
Recent playoff form however is on the side of the Black Knights. Navy leads the all-time Patriot League series between the two schools with a 3-2 record. The two most recent games though have resulted in wins for Army. Amy also looked good last time out in the first round of the tournament with a dominating 13-6 win over fifth seeded Lehigh. The Mids however were utterly dominant in their last performance of the regular season, a 7-1 thrashing of Sacred Heart. The offense was just ho-hum, but the defense was outstanding.
It is this defensive tenacity that will be important against Army. In a win or go home scenario the contest pitches the Midshipmen and their number one ranked defense in the nation (allowing just 6.77 per game) against an Army unit ranked sixth in the country on that same list. Add in two of the best goalies in the conference and you have the makings of a defensive classic.
Navy will be excited to host this tournament, not least because the Mids own a 7-1 record at home this season. A win over Army would give Navy its first season with eight wins on home turf since 1969. The player to watch for in this one is First-Team All-Patriot League midfielder Casey Rees. Rees has been great all year, but he has been especially damaging against league foes. Stunningly 25 of Rees’ 27 points this spring have come against other Patriot League teams.