Navy ready for Patriot League Tournament
No sooner had Navy vanquished some personal demons by snapping a 36-game losing streak to Johns Hopkins on Saturday, the players and coaches began studying for the Patriot League Tournament, which kicks off Friday.
"You don’t get much time [to celebrate], and that’s probably good," coach Richie Meade said. "Obviously, that was a great win for us, but it’s only one game in the season."
With a 6-7 record, the Midshipmen must defeat Lafayette in a tournament semifinal on Friday and then get past the winner of the No. 20 Army-Bucknell semifinal to make a seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
That’s not unfamiliar territory for Navy, which has captured five of the last six Patriot League crowns, but Meade pointed out the strength of this year’s field.
"I’m not so sure that what has happened in the past is really going to affect this year’s team or this year’s tournament," he said. "Army’s riding a five-game winning streak, Bucknell has won two in a row. Bucknell was one of the teams picked to win it. I think they’re very talented. I think Army has had a good year, and they’re playing well. Lafayette beat our brains in [15-8 on March 12]. It wasn’t a fluke. They could have won by more than they won the night that we played them. They’re a very good offensive team and a good team overall. They’ve had the best year they’ve ever had in several years. So I think it’s going to be interesting."
Considering the Leopards’ convincing victory, did the Midshipmen crave another shot at Lafayette?
"We’re not gunning for Lafayette, but I think it was a game we would have liked to have back," Meade said. "We don’t have any excuses. They out-groundballed us, they outshot us, they outhustled us, they beat us all over the field. It was more disappointing – not that we lost, but the way that we lost – than any other game that we’ve played here that I can remember. So from that perspective, that game stands by itself. We’re going to get to play the same team. They’re a very good team. We have very great respect for them, and we had very great respect for them going into it. But I think it’s fortunate for us to play Lafayette, and it’s not because we want revenge or anything, but it’s because we understand how well we’re going to need to play to be able to beat them. I think that’s motivating for us. That’s the perspective I’m looking at."
The jury is still out on whether senior long-stick midfielder Jaren Woeppel will be able to play this weekend. Meade said Woeppel practiced on Monday and Tuesday, but on a limited basis.
"He didn’t get through all of practice," Meade said. "I still think he’s questionable for Friday night. We probably won’t decide until Friday, but he’s definitely better than he was last week. We’re hoping that he can play. I’m optimistic that he’s going to play, but we can’t say he’s going to play."