Navy coach Richie Meade has used the term "emotional Alamo" to describe certain contests that can alter or determine a season's path.
With Friday night's 9-8 loss to Georgetown, the Midshipmen (4-6) are now two games below .500 with three regular-season contests remaining against No. 9 Maryland, No. 3 Army and No. 6 Johns Hopkins.
But if you think Navy is ready to throw in the towel, think again.
"There's no relief," Meade said. "You've got to shake it off, get back to work on Monday, get ready to play the University of Maryland [on Friday], and then do the best we can. And I'm looking forward to it. I'm not despondent, disillusioned. I'm not happy we lost by one goal. I'm not satisfied. I'm proud of our team, I'm proud of the way we're playing. We've just got to not make the mistakes that we're making at critical times."
The Midshipmen have lost four games by one goal and could just as easily be 8-2 instead of 4-6. But there's not glossing over their record, and the school must upend Army in two weeks to earn an opportunity to qualify for the four-team Patriot League tournament.
Freshman attackman Tucker Hull said the players are intent on turning the season around.
"We've lost another extremely close game that we shouldn't have lost, and honestly, everyone's getting pretty worked up," he said. "These next teams better be looking out because we'll be coming at them."
Meade said he has witnessed no hint of quitting among the players or coaches.
"You can get your ass kicked and show no heart," he said. "That's not the case here. Every time we've been punched in the face, we've responded. And I'm confident we'll respond again."
*Friday's loss was especially poignant for Navy junior goalie R.J. Wickham, who lost Amber Hopkins, a classmate from Penn Yan Academy in Penn Yan, N.Y., who died last week after a bout with brain cancer. "Today was a pretty emotional day for me," said Wickham, who dedicated his 20-save performance to Hopkins' memory. "I lost my friend from high school, and it kind of sucks. So I was kind of dedicating this game to her. It was a tough loss for me, but yeah, it was a tough game." Wickham's showing included the most saves by a Navy player since Seth DiNola registered 21 saves against Penn State in 2003.
*Senior midfielder Andy Warner, the team's top playmaker, sat out the game due to a concussion suffered in last week's 5-4 loss to Colgate, but Meade didn't seem to think that Warner's absence had much impact on the offense. "I don't know. I can't answer that question. I thought the two guys that played are both plebes [Pat Durkin and Michael Jones], and they both did fine. They're not Andy Warner yet. I don't think that has anything to do with this. We went 2-for-4 on extra man [against Georgetown], we went 0-for-4 with Andy [against Colgate]. So maybe he's done. … If Andy's out there, who knows what happens? I don't know. We scored eight goals. If Andy's out there, maybe we score 20 or maybe we score two. Last week, he was out there, and we scored four."
*One factor in the Hoyas' win was the decision to move senior Barney Ehrmann to the top of the box and play essentially a long-stick midfield role. The Baltimore native and Gilman graduate achieved game highs in both ground balls (9) and caused turnovers (4). "I was really happy to be back up there on the faceoff wings for the chance to get some GBs, which is kind of like my specialty," said the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Ehrmann, who was sidelined last season by an ankle injury. "So it was definitely good to be back up top, to change things around and maybe gives us a spark." Coach Dave Urick said he could've kicked himself for not moving Ehrmann earlier. "He is a force up there," Urick said. "He's a difference-maker when he's up top. Getting that up off the ground, coming off the wing on a faceoff, being able to take the ball away. I've seen Barney play a lot of good games, but I don't know if he's played a better one than he played tonight."
*With the win, the Hoyas evened their record at 4-4. While the team still trails Syracuse, Notre Dame and Villanova in terms of representing the Big East, any victory could enhance Georgetown's resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. "It certainly doesn't hurt," Urick said. "I think both teams kind of had their backs against the wall a little bit. we've got some games ahead of us that will allow us to play our way into the discussion, and other teams are going to have to play some games as well, and we'll see how that works out. It's more important for us to try to continue to get better and play a whole game."