Nation's stingiest defense has anchored Navy men's soccer team

The Navy men’s soccer team last finished with a winning regular-season record in 2010. Before that, it was 2005.

With four games left before postseason play, the Midshipmen (9-3-2, 5-0-0 Patriot League) have already ensured that they will finish north of .500. And a good portion of the team’s success traces back to the defense.

Senior goalkeeper Gavin Snyder (Severna Park) leads Division I in goals-against average (0.25 per game) and save percentage (.933). Junior center back Joseph Greenspan, sophomore center back Derek Vogel and senior defensemen Nick Dubee and Blake Busse have joined Snyder to help Navy outscore opponents 17-2 during the team’s current eight-game winning streak.

Coach Dave Brandt said the defense’s ability to lower its goals-per-game average from 1.53 in 2012 to 0.86 in 2013 has been critical for the Midshipmen.

“Our back four has been more solid this year in shutting off chances and not giving up goals,” he said Friday. “We’ve actually led the league in scoring the last couple of years, but in soccer, unless you can post shutouts or certainly not allow more than a goal most games, it’s going to be hard to get wins. I think that aspect has specifically gotten better this year.”

The play of the defense will be key for Navy, which is looking to cement a spot in the six-team Patriot League tournament. The Midshipmen can accomplish that by defeating Holy Cross (6-5-1, 4-1-0) on Saturday night.

“It’s a huge game,” Brandt said. “They’re right behind us. We’re 5-0 and they’re 4-1. … That’s the thing. Our league expanded this year with the additions of Boston University and Loyola. So what was seven league games in the past is now nine. So the fact that we’re 5-0 is great, but we have not done anything yet. There’s just about half of the Patriot League season yet to go. So there’s plenty of time to go, and we have to keep our foot on the pedal.”

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