The Navy men's lacrosse team has dominated the Patriot League tournament since joining the conference four years ago, and has owned Army for the past decade. In yesterday's tournament semifinal round, nothing changed for the No. 9 Midshipmen.
Navy controlled Army from start to finish. The Mids scored the first seven goals, negated some problems in the faceoff game with a dominant defense, and cruised to a 12-1 victory at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Mids (10-3) likely have an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but will try to earn an automatic qualifier in tomorrow's tournament championship game against Colgate.
Navy has won three straight Patriot League tournaments and is 7-0 in tournament play.
"I was impressed by the way we played, especially in the first half," said Navy coach Richie Meade, who watched the Mids take a 9-1 lead at halftime. "Our midfield set the tone for the game. Offensively, it was difficult for Army to put a whole lot of pressure on us."
It marked the 13th straight time Navy has beaten Army (6-7) and it matched the most lopsided win since beating the Black Knights 12-1 in 1989.
Army, which opened the season 4-0, including a win at No. 13 Syracuse, finished by losing its last six games.
Navy was so dominant that not even a 6-for-17 faceoff effort could slow the Mids. Navy out-shot Army, 33-14, won the ground ball battle, 36-22 and overwhelmed Patriot League Goalie of the Year Adam Fullerton. He finished with five saves, including three in the first half.
Even the clearing game, which has been a shortcoming this spring, looked good. Navy was successful on 17 of 21 attempts.
"Navy was outstanding from the opening whistle, and we were unable to respond to that," Army coach Joe Alberici said. "They shot the ball very well. We won eight of 12 faceoffs in the first half, but their defense was suffocating."
Army's only goal came with 6:19 left in the first half. By that point, the Mids were running by defenders at will and peppering Fullerton, or finding holes in the Black Knights' defense with sharp passes that led to high-percentage shots in close.
Eight different players scored for Navy. Senior midfielder Billy Looney, freshman attackman Tim Paul, senior midfielder Tommy Wallin and junior attackman Nick Mirabito each finished with two goals and an assist. Senior attackman Ian Dingman had a goal and two assists.
Six days after a 10-9 loss to Johns Hopkins - each of its losses have been by a goal to a top 10 opponent - Navy came out roaring with six first-quarter goals for its most prolific start of the year.
Paul (Loyola) needed just 45 seconds, with an assist from Wallin, to put Navy on the scoreboard. Then, over a span of 5:24, the Mids scored five times to demoralize the Black Knights, who could not maintain possession with Navy's defenders jumping into passing lanes and knocking balls to the ground.
Dingman, with an assist from Mirabito, scored in close to make it 4-0 with 5:18 left in the quarter. Thirty seconds later, senior long-stick midfielder Victor Barger scored to make it 5-0, and Mirabito gave the Mids a 6-0 lead with 3:17 left.
"It wasn't any individual effort, just good team offense," Dingman said. "All week in practice, we focused on moving the ball fast and getting Army's defense to move. We took advantage of that situation, and we finished our passes."
Army 0 1 0 0 - 1
Navy 6 3 0 3 - 12
Goals: A-LoRusso; N-Looney 2, Mirabito 2, Paul 2, Wallin 2, Barger, Dingman, Guido, Standen. Assists: N-Dingman 2, Higgins, Looney, Mirabito, Paul, Wallin. Saves: A-Fullerton 5, Clark 1; N-Finnegan 3, Coughlin.