Navy still has two games left on its Patriot League schedule, but the program doesn't have to worry about jockeying for a spot in the conference tournament.
That's because the Midshipmen (7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league) became the first team to earn a berth in the conference tournament, according to playoff standings distributed Monday morning by sports information director Scott Strasemeier. It's a reassuring scenario for a team that will close out the Patriot League schedule with a home game against Colgate (3-7, 1-4) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, and a road contest at Army (7-3, 4-1) on April 16.
"It's certainly comforting to know that you're already in it," coach Rick Sowell said Monday afternoon. "We don't have to stress out in these next couple games trying to put ourselves in position to get into the conference tournament. But at the same time, we realize there are bigger things out there for us, and that's what we're chasing at this point."
One of those prizes is capturing the regular-season championship and securing the right to serve as host of the league tournament for the second year in a row. But Sowell said the players and coaches are narrowing their focus.
"We want to win every game, so it really is about winning the next game," he said. "If the smoke clears in a couple weeks and we're hosting, that would be terrific. At this point, it really is focusing on the next game. If we keep winning, everything else will take care of itself."
Thanks to a five-game winning streak, the Midshipmen rose from No. 13 to No. 10 in the latest Cascade/Maverik media poll released Monday morning. But the sudden display of respect doesn't mean much to Sowell.
"I never even bring it up with my team. Never," he said. "At this stage, so much changes from week to week. So it never gets discussed because in the end, I don't want to say that it doesn't matter, but at this point, it doesn't. We've got to keep winning ball games, and all of that other stuff is just secondary at this time."