In the offseason, Rick Sowell would have preferred filling an open weekend at the end of Navy’s regular season with a game. Now having a bye appears to be a gift for the team.
Saturday’s 10-6 upset of No. 12 Army helped the Midshipmen (6-7, 4-4 Patriot League) clinch a spot in the conference’s six-team tournament. They will play in one quarterfinal Tuesday, which makes Sowell’s decision to keep the upcoming weekend vacant look prescient.
“It feels good – no other way to put it,” he said Thursday afternoon. “Certainly it’s been a [tough] year. At one point, things weren’t looking good, but we’ve managed to win four out of our last five, and to get that last one against an archrival in a beautiful setting and in a great environment, to win that game and to be playing on Tuesday and to have the bye this week, it kind of works out well for us. Kind of gives us the chance to exhale just a little bit. We don’t want to get too comfortable. At this time of the year, everyone has bumps and bruises. So to have the bye this week knowing that we have to play next Tuesday certainly wasn’t how I would have drawn it up back in January, but I think it could be to our benefit.”
Navy is fifth in the league standings, but could earn the No. 4 seed and the right to host Tuesday’s quarterfinal if Boston University (10-3, 4-3) defeats Holy Cross (4-8, 4-3) on Friday night. The Midshipmen would leapfrog the Crusaders for the fourth seed because of their 11-4 victory on April 2.
But Sowell is not in the business of rooting for one conference foe over another.
“As I told my team, at this point, things are out of our control,” he said. “So I’m not going to worry and try to figure it out because that’s a dangerous game. … I’m only going to worry about what we can control and that’s getting better this week. Whoever we end up playing, we’re confident. We’ve won four of our last five. If we have to go on the road to BU or go on the road to Holy Cross or if we’re home against Holy Cross, for me at this point, we’re just focusing on making sure that we’re ready. That’s the mentality that I really do have and I’m trying to instill that in my team.”