For the second consecutive year, Navy captured the Patriot League’s regular-season title and earned the top seed and right to host the semifinals and final at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
And for the second season in a row, the Midshipmen must get past archrival Army in the first of Friday’s two semifinals at 4:30 p.m.
But unlike last spring when Navy fell to the Black Knights, 11-7, and had its campaign come to a sudden halt, coach Rick Sowell dismissed the idea of a déjà vu scenario facing his program.
“We’re in a different place than we were a year ago,” he said Thursday afternoon. “We have that experience now. Most of the guys who are playing this year played last year. So we’re a better team. We’re a better team than we were last year. Army’s pretty darn good again this year, but I think we’ll be better mentally prepared going into the game this year than we were last year.”
The No. 9 Midshipmen (10-3) edged Army (9-5) 11-10 in overtime April 16, and the film from that contest has already been dissected and studied. Sowell said the team has also spent time reviewing the Black Knights’ 13-6 pasting of Lehigh in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round.
The one thing Sowell said he will not revisit is using last season’s loss to Army in the conference tournament as motivation for the current squad to advance to Sunday’s championship final.
“It’s a different year, it’s a different team,” he said. “They’re still awfully good. But we’re not looking at it so much as we’re playing Army again. We’re looking at it as an opportunity to get to Sunday. That’s where our focus is. We do have to play Army, but it could have been Lehigh, it could have been Holy Cross. It’s the team we have to beat to get to Sunday, and it just so happens to be Army. Last year, I just don’t know if it has anything to do with this year.”