Defense has historically been a strong point for the Navy women’s soccer team, and this year’s version may be one for the record books.

The Midshipmen (15-3-0 overall and 8-0-0 in the Patriot League) have shut out all eight conference opponents this fall. If the defense can blank Army (7-7-3, 3-3-2) this Friday, the unit will be the first in program history to allow zero goals in league play since joining the Patriot League for the 1994 season.

Coach Carin Gabarra said the team’s ability to limit opposing offenses has keyed Navy’s run to its eighth Patriot League regular-season title.

“Defense is huge for us,” said Gabarra, whose players have outscored their conference rivals, 13-0. “It’s traditionally been what we have focused on. You can’t lose games if you don’t give up goals. Our defending has been fantastic. It’s really our midfielders and our backs, but we go over in training a lot about our whole team defending. We’ve done very well. We’ve had some solid performances. We have a lot of character in the back, a lot of leadership which has helped guide us.”

That leadership could be a significant factor against the Black Knights, who would love nothing more than to spoil the Midshipmen’s perfect record in the Patriot League. While Friday’s result won’t change Navy’s standing in the upcoming conference tournament, Gabarra said the game is supremely critical to the players and coaches.

“It is one of the most storied rivalries in the history of sports, and it’s important for the Naval Academy, and it’s important for all of our alumni that have played before us, and it’s important for all of the Navy and Marine Corps personnel all over the world,” she said. “The game is its own entity. So it’s extremely important for us. We play that game for all those that came before and all those serving around the world. So it’s a big deal for us. I’m real excited that the game for us isn’t really just something that we need for the results in the league, but it’s an Army-Navy game now. We can focus on it for what it is. It’s always a very competitive match, and it’s always very close.”