Tim O’Donohue used the word “disappointing” repeatedly to describe what transpired during Army-Navy Cup IX.
Navy’s fifth-year head coach was particularly disappointed his players did not play to their full potential versus the archrival.
Junior midfielder Oscar Pereira factored in both goals, while sophomore goalkeeper Josh Taylor made six saves as Army West Point shut out Navy, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“It was a disappointing performance. It was a relatively even game, but they disrupted how we wanted to play offensively,” O’Donohue said. “It was a game where we just couldn’t find our rhythm. I felt the effort was there, but we just weren’t as sharp as we’ve been all year.”
O’Donohue was also disappointed that both Army goals came off turnovers.
Pereira took the ball away from the Midshipmen and delivered the ball ahead to junior forward John Poncy, who booted a shot into the lower right side of the net to make it 1-0 in the 48th minute.
“We were starting to find rhythm in the second half. We were possessing and creating opportunities,” O’Donohue said. “Just like that, an uncharacteristic mistake in midfield and they scored off a counterattack.”
It was a similar story on the game’s second goal with Army freshman defender Nick Atkinson coming away with the ball following a Navy turnover, then sending a through pass to Pereira, who blasted a strike from 30 yards out into the upper 90 of the left side.
“Both goals were the result of turnovers in the midfield while we were building up the attack. Within two passes they were able to mount nice counterattacks,” O’Donohue said. “We were missing a little bit of composure defensively. We weren’t clean enough in the final third.”
Senior defensive midfielder Toni Adewole made the biggest play for Navy during a scoreless first half. The Clarksburg resident cleared a shot by Army sophomore forward Sam Epitime off the goal in the fifth minute of play.
Navy got one of its best opportunities less than two minutes into the second half with junior forward Jacob Williams getting off a dangerous shot. The Old Mill High graduate forced Taylor to make a tough save.
“I thought the goalkeeper made a great save on Jacob Williams,” O’Donohue said.
Just over a minute later, Poncy put the Black Knights on the scoreboard first — marking a major momentum swing.
Navy freshman midfielder David Jackson earned a penalty kick in the 74th minute, but that opportunity was turned away by Taylor. A corner kick delivered by Adewole led to a header shot by senior defender Ernando Manrique that went high over the crossbar.
“You need to finish your chances and we didn’t today,” O’Donohue said. “We also didn’t create enough off set pieces.”
Both teams finished with 12 shots, six of which were on goal. Navy goalie Ian Bramlett made three saves with Adewole credited with one. The Midshipmen held an 8-5 advantage on corner kicks.
Navy’s frustration in the annual Star Match was extended for a sixth straight season. Army claimed the Star outright by beating the archrival, 2-1, in 2015, 1-0 in 2016 and 4-1 in 2018. The 2017 and 2019 meeting ended in ties. Navy’s last win in the series came by a 1-0 score in 2014.
“It’s something we’re aware of,” O’Donohue said of the winless streak against Army. “I’m concerned about this year and that’s why today is disappointing. I feel bad for the seniors. It’s a great group of guys and this is a tough game to lose.”
As tends to be the case, it was a rough and tumble affair that produced a total of 40 fouls and six red cards. Army was whistled for 24 fouls and four red cards.
“It’s always a chippy, physical match with Army,” O’Donohue said.