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Katie Herrmann lifts Navy women’s soccer past Loyola Maryland, 1-0, in Patriot League tournament semifinal

Freshman defender Katie Herrmann picked a great time to score her first career goal as a Navy women’s soccer player.

Herrmann hammered a hard shot over the head of the keeper in the 53rd minute as Navy held off Loyola Maryland, 1-0, in the semifinals of the Patriot League tournament on Wednesday night at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.

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For Herrmann, a product of Ardrey Kell High in Charlotte, North Carolina, it marked the first game-winning goal of her career at any level.

“I’ve waited for a moment like that my whole life. Growing up on the soccer field, that’s all any player ever wants. I feel like I’m on Cloud Nine,” she said.

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Herrmann’s goal capped an impressive offensive sequence for the Midshipmen, who applied a lot of pressure inside the box and had the visiting Greyhounds on their heels.

“Our team did a great job of staying composed the entire game, and I think it really showed in that moment,” Herrmann said. “We took our time and worked the ball to get a good look, and it just happened to be at my feet when space opened up.”

Senior midfielder Emily Keast delivered a short pass back to Herrmann, who did a quick pirouette to lose a defender who was on her hip.

Herrmann suddenly turned on the ball and drilled a shot that went over the outstretched arms of goalie Paige Sim and settled in the top of the net, giving the Midshipmen an opportunity to repeat as Patriot League champions.

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“I remember I was facing backwards and took a little roll touch. I often do that but didn’t think I would have a shot on goal,” Herrmann said. “I took a quick look up and just finished it. It really felt surreal, to be honest. I was watching the ball and was like ‘Is this going in?’ When it did, it was just the best feeling.

“Our word of the week was ‘finish’ and I got the opportunity to make it happen.”

Keast was credited with an assist on the game-winning goal for Navy (4-4-1), which will play at Colgate (4-3-1) in the final on Saturday at 2 p.m. Colgate beat Boston University, 1-0, in double overtime in the North Division semifinal on Wednesday night.

“I’m really excited for our seniors because it’s been such a roller-coaster this year. We’ve been through a lot together,” Navy coach Carin Gabarra said. “It’s a wonderful senior group and their leadership has been phenomenal. They’ve really guided the team to this point.

“I’m just super excited they get to go to a Patriot League final.”

Navy will be making its 14th appearance in the Patriot League tournament final. The Midshipmen are seeking their fifth championship, having previously captured titles in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2019.

“We played a very good game tonight, but we can be better,” said Gabarra, in her 28th year at Navy. “There were certain areas that Loyola exposed a bit, so we need to work on those and fine-tune for the final.”

Freshman goalie Mattie Gallagher made four saves in posting the shutout. One of those stops came against her sister, Loyola junior midfielder Kaleigh Gallagher.

Mattie Gallagher’s biggest save came at crunch time. After a direct kick opportunity, Loyola defender Gillian Borton got off a great shot that was aimed just below the crossbar. However, Gallagher jumped and reached high to punch the ball away with 1:15 remaining.

“Mattie is amazing, and the composure she has in front of the goal at her age is really crazy,” Herrmann said. “She’s one of my best friends and I’m just so grateful for her and that great save at the end.”

Navy dominated possession and outshot Loyola 9-5. The Midshipmen finished with a 6-1 advantage on corner kicks. However, Loyola got off four shots in the second half with most coming down the stretch. After the huge Gallagher save, the Greyhounds got a corner kick that also created an opportunity.

“That’s soccer. When you’re down a goal in a playoff you gain a lot of energy and momentum, and that’s what Loyola did,” Gabarra said. “We had some unnecessary fouls and served balls we shouldn’t have.”

Navy applied considerable pressure and outshot Loyola 5-1 in the first half with junior midfielder Victoria Tran (River Hill) getting the only dangerous opportunity. Tran delivered a hard shot from about 15 yards away that Sim had to lay out to bat away.

Gabarra was asked if the coaching staff made any halftime adjustments.

“We actually did not change a thing because I thought we played some great soccer. We were creating chances,” she said. “We just needed to get more numbers in the box. We were serving a lot of good balls and not getting numbers on the end of those opportunities.

“Really, it came down to the tenacity and grit in the box. We kind of ratcheted up the intensity and the urgency to get a goal.”

Tran, who was named the Patriot League Midfielder of the Year, was very active on the ball and did a superb job of pushing it forward, getting off a total of two shots. Senior midfielder and captain Kristina Dzhandzhapanyan also had an extremely high work rate.

“Our midfielders have been really solid. They’ve all been really composed on the ball,” Gabarra said. We were patient and moving the ball quickly.”

Center fullback Avery Fries, a first-team All-Patriot League pick, was rock-solid in anchoring the defense in front of Gallagher. Chloe Dawson, the Patriot League Rookie of the Year, repeatedly took the ball away from Loyola attackers.

“Our defenders have been really good all year. There was some pressure in this game because Loyola got some transitional moments where they had counterattacks, which were scary,” Gabarra said. “Our back line was really strong tonight.”

An enthusiastic crowd of 200, mostly members of the Brigade of Midshipmen, braved steady rain that started as a drizzle and got heavier as the game wore on. Coach Tim O’Donohue made sure the entire Navy men’s soccer team was out there cheering hard.

“It’s fantastic because these kids have played a lot this season without any fans. It’s nice to get that kind of support,” Gabarra said. “It means a lot to the players and sometimes it’s the difference between winning and losing. I thought the crowd really helped us tonight.”

Colgate beat Navy, 2-1, in double overtime on Feb. 28 in the first game of the spring season. That contest was played in a torrential downpour and Gabarra acknowledged she would like another shot at the Red Raiders in different conditions.

Patriot League tournament final

NAVY@COLGATE

Saturday, 2 p.m.

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