Having gone three consecutive years without an appearance in the Patriot League tournament, Navy is close to ending that streak.
A pair of wins against Lafayette (11-3 on March 7) and Boston University (13-7 on Saturday) means that the Midshipmen (4-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference) own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Leopards (1-7, 1-4) and Terriers (1-8, 1-4). Those tiebreakers could be significant for Navy, which currently sits in sixth place in the league. The top six teams qualify for the Patriot League tournament, which runs from April 22 to 27.
“We’re certainly in the driver’s seat, if you will,” coach Rick Sowell said Tuesday morning. “That’s one of our goals going back to the beginning of the season – to play in the conference tournament. So we’re that much loser to accomplishing that goal. But we still have a couple big games coming up. Loyola, the No. 1 team in the country, is coming into Annapolis. So our focus right now is trying to prepare the best we can this week and get a win on Saturday.”
The Midshipmen have remaining conference games against the top-ranked Greyhounds (9-1, 5-0) and No. 14 Army (6-3, 4-1). That’s a brutal finish, but Lafayette must play Holy Cross (2-8, 0-5), Bucknell (5-5, 3-3) and Lehigh (8-3, 4-2), and Boston has contests against Army, Loyola and Holy Cross.
Still, Sowell said his priority is trying to get Navy into the tournament with wins, not waiting to see whether those other teams will lose.
“We take each game one at a time,” he said. “We’re certainly looking forward to playing Army next week. That’s a big game with implications outside of just winning because it’s Army. Right now, we’re focused on Loyola, and we know were going to have our hands full. So we need to put 100 percent of our focus and concentration on preparing for them.”