Monday’s announcement of Patriot League awards included major honors for three Navy individuals in junior defenseman Chris Fennell (Defensive Player of the Year), senior goalie John Connors (Goalkeeper of the Year) and Rick Sowell (Coach of the Year).
The first team included five players in Fennell, Connors, senior attackman Patrick Keena, sophomore midfielder Casey Rees (Boys’ Latin) and junior long-stick midfielder Matt Rees (Boys’ Latin). Junior faceoff specialist Brady Dove was selected to the second team.
No other team in the conference had more than four members on the first team, and it marked the highest number of Midshipmen on the first team since 2007 when seven players made the first team.
For coach Rick Sowell, the number of representatives was a sign of progress for the No. 9 Midshipmen (10-3), who meet Army (9-5) in Friday’s Patriot League tournament semifinal at 4:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and are seeking to capture on Sunday their first conference tournament championship since 2009.
“We’re getting better, and our guys do work hard,” he said Thursday. “And it’s a reflection not just of those five, but the rest of the team as well pushing those five to get better every day in practice. So even though they were individual honors, it’s a collective team effort. It’s good to see that these young men get recognized for their hard work and effort, but at the end of the day, there’s really just one big trophy that we’re chasing, and that’s the one that gets handed out to the team that wins on Sunday afternoon.”
Sowell became the first coach in conference history to earn back-to-back Coach of the Year honors, a feat he had achieved at Stony Brook as the America East Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011. But he sounded even more delighted about the players’ accomplishments.
“I’m very proud of where our program is at this time,” Sowell said. “We’re moving in the right direction. We certainly have not accomplished anywhere near all of our goals, but we have had some good success this year and accomplished some goals that we set forth at the beginning of the year. That being said, there are still some goals out there that we’re chasing, and hopefully, we can continue to move in the right direction.”