Wednesday night’s 2-1 win against Lehigh coupled with Army’s 2-1 loss to Holy Cross gave the Navy men’s soccer team sole possession of first place in the Patriot League. That might seem to be cause for at least a small celebration by coach Dave Brandt, right?
Wrong, Brandt said Thursday afternoon.
“I have no reaction,” he deadpanned. “We’re 7-0 [in the conference], and there are teams right behind us, and nothing’s done yet. We’ve got two more games. We haven't even clinched [a] top two [seed] yet. I'm just that way. That’s the reality. It doesn’t mean anything.”
The Midshipmen (11-3-2 overall) set a program record with their seventh victory in the Patriot League, eclipsing the previous school-best six wins the 1991 squad accrued en route to the team’s first and only regular-season championship.
With 21 points, Navy has opened a three-point lead on the Black Knights (12-2-1 overall and 6-1-0 in the conference) with two games left in the regular season. The Midshipmen appear to have freed themselves of relying on tiebreakers to capture the Patriot League crown, but they still have to get past Loyola (6-7-2, 1-5-1) on Saturday night and Army on Nov. 8.
"The reality is that I’ve been through this too many times in athletics," Brandt reasoned. "I know how it goes. It’s over when it’s over. We're not close yet. We've got two big games yet."
If Navy can secure a No. 1 or 2 seed, the team will have played its last mid-week game until the NCAA tournament. Since Oct. 9, the Midshipmen have played two contests per week, which adds even more significance to securing a first-round bye in the Patriot League tournament.
“[W]e're in a heavy streak of games – the last of which will be Saturday here against Loyola before we’ve got six days before the Army game,” Brandt said. “I mentioned that we haven’t clinched [a] top two [seed] yet. Top two is key in the Patriot League because it gives you a first-round bye, and that means you won’t have to play on the Tuesday [Nov. 12] when the [Nos.] 3-6 seeds play. So we’re hoping to earn that and earn ourselves a few extra days to catch up.”