The Navy women's lacrosse team spent the bulk of this season tearing through the overmatched and underwhelming Patriot League.
On Sunday, the host Midshipmen put an exclamation point on perhaps their best season in school history, scoring the game's first five goals and cruising to an 18-11 win over Holy Cross to claim their third straight Patriot League tournament title.
"We really put a punctuation on this season," Navy coach Cindy Timchal said. "It was a total team effort, and the credit [went to] a good, fast start."
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Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, 550 Taylor Ave, Annapolis, MD 21401, USA
Junior midfielder Kathy Young and sophomore attacker Aimee Gennaro each played starring roles on that front, scoring seven goals apiece — the former setting a career high and the latter tying one.
Both took advantage of a Holy Cross defense that spent the bulk of its time keying on Navy points leader Jasmine DePompeo. And while the Crusaders held the junior to just a goal and two assists, Young and Gennaro dominated on one-on-one opportunities, scoring 12 of their 14 goals unassisted.
"We're 12 players strong when we're on the field, so when they're taking someone away, someone's opening up," Gennaro said.
Said Young, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player: "We just ran the plays the coaches wanted us to, and there were opportunities today. Holy Cross has a great defense, but our team really just went hard today and attacked them."
Navy (17-2), which has won six straight and 16 of 17, advances to Saturday's NCAA play-in game on the road against Oregon, a 13-10 winner over Stanford in Sunday's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation final.
There are three play-in games, all told, with the winners advancing to the 16-team tournament field, to be announced Sunday. A year ago, the Midshipmen beat Quinnipiac in the play-in before falling to top-ranked Maryland in the opening round.
Navy didn't waste much time establishing its dominance against Holy Cross.
Young scored three goals in the first 12:59, each time beating her defender on the drive and shooting, as the Midshipmen built a 7-1 lead by late in the first half.
Holy Cross (10-8), which had made the final by knocking off second seed Colgate on Friday, made a game of it by rallying to score three straight near the end of the half.
But after the Crusaders cut the lead to 8-5 on a solo effort by freshman Laura Ryan to open the second half, Navy quickly regained command when DePompeo and Young scored consecutive goals in a span of 1:31.
Young, who took over the team lead in goals from freshman Loren Generi, said the fifth-year program was intent on making it back to the national stage, where it hopes to turn some heads.
"We are so excited to go out west and make a statement," Young said. "Our program is still so new, and we're really excited to keep playing these great teams. We're excited to keep going in the postseason."
Holy Cross 4 7 — 11
Navy 8 10 — 18
Goals: HC—Ryan 3, Carrellas 3, Hennessey 2, Zebrowski, Shea, Klimasewiski; N—Gennaro 7, Young 7, DePompeo, Fellows, Generi, Vivonetto.
Assists: HC—Ryan 2, Carrellas, Hennessey; N—DePompeo 2, Fellows.
Saves: HC—Weber 6; N—Verbeeck 4, Ponchione.