Several opponents have slowed Navy's high-powered offense recently by holding the ball for long possessions, but the Midshipmen made sure Holy Cross could not do that in Sunday's Patriot League women's lacrosse championship.
The No. 12 Midshipmen jumped ahead early and kept rolling to an eight-goal halftime lead en route to a 14-4 victory for their fourth straight Patriot League tournament title at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The win ended a string of three-straight one-goal wins, including two in double overtime. Navy edged Lafayette, 9-8, Friday in the Patriot League semifinal after beating the Leopards 15-8 during the regular season.
"I think we needed to light a fire under ourselves," said Navy attacker Aimee Gennaro, who scored four of her five goals in the first half. "We were so sick of those one-goal games. They were strong games, but we know we're a strong team and we really came out and showed it today. I am so proud of everybody."
With their 18th straight win over a conference opponent, the Midshipmen (18-1) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which begins May 10. They will find out where and who they play Sunday night when the NCAA announces the 26-team field.
"I don't think this feeling ever gets old for anybody," said Gennaro, after the Midshipmen hoisted the Patriot League championship trophy and coach Cindy Timchal on their shoulders in celebration. "Cindy's been doing this for years and she still loves it."
This is the 25th time in 31 years of coaching that Timchal, who led Maryland to eight national championships between 1992 and 2001, has guided her team to the NCAA tournament.
In their second straight Patriot League final victory over the Crusaders (9-10), the Midshipmen had their offense clicking in the first half, scoring 10 goals on 11 shots. After Notre Dame Prep graduate MacKenzie Bozel fed Sara Hennessey to pull Holy Cross within 4-2 with 14:22 to go in the first half, Navy reeled off six straight goals, including the first career goal for defender Brijet Mall.
The Midshipmen were ready for the third-seeded Crusaders, who upset American 8-7 in the semifinal, to hold the ball, but Holy Cross coach Stephanie Ridolfi said that was never the game plan. The Crusaders, who came in averaging 10.4 goals, were looking to attack at every opportunity and they outshot the Midshipmen, 21-20.
Despite winning four of the first five draws, the Crusaders offense couldn't get anything going in the first half.
"Our goal going into this game was to play well on the draw," Ridolfi said. "And looking back on it, we tied them in draws, 10-10. For us in previous games we've been getting beaten by quite a few draws, so that was actually successful. It was just some of the turnovers that happened after the fact."
The Midshipmen converted all five of the Crusaders' first-half turnovers.
Gennaro was named to the All-Tournament team along with goalie Annie Foky, who made six saves, and midfielder Lindsay Rheiner, who had three draw controls and two caused turnovers.
Three-time Patriot League Player of the Year Jasmine DePompeo, who had two assists in the final, was named the tournament Most Valuable Player for the second time. She also had two goals and two assists in Friday's semifinal.
With two points in Sunday's game, DePompeo, a senior attacker, broke the Patriot League record for most points in a season with 120, edging Lehigh's Jill Altshuler, a Catonsville graduate, who had 119 in 2006. DePompeo already held Patriot League records for career points (329) and assists (161) as well as single-season assists (65).
HC 2 2 -- 4
N 10 4 -- 14
Goals: HC—Sutton, Carrellas, Hennessey; N—Gennaro 5, K.Young 3, Generi, Coughlin, Browne, Mall. Assists: HC—Bozel 3; N—DePompeo 2, Gennaro. Saves: HC—Weber 3, Boyle 0; N—Foky 6, Hauser 0.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun