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Manown goal lifts Army past Navy in overtime

Nothing came easy for Navy during its annual rivalry game with Army on Saturday.

Nothing, however, was more difficult to deal with than the end.

Army’s Matt Manown scored with 2:34 left in overtime as the Black Knights earned a 9-8 victory before an announced crowd of 10,216 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the 100th meeting between the two academies.

The Midshipmen had won four consecutive regular-season meetings between the schools, but dropped the Star Game for the first time since 2014.

“It’s tough,” Navy coach Rick Sowell said. “These guys have never experienced this, but after winning four in a row, I hadn’t felt this in five years. It’s tough but we still have some games to play.”

Goalkeeper Ryan Kern matched his career high with 18 saves for the Midshipmen (5-6, 3-4 Patriot League), who got four goals from Christian Daniel.

Freshman Brendan Nichtern had two goals and three assists and senior Nate Jones scored three goals for the Black Knights (9-3, 5-2). A.J. Barretto made nine saves for Army.

Army won the faceoff to begin overtime on Marcus Hudgins’ ground ball, a turnabout after Navy claimed eight of nine at the X in the second half. Manown challenged short stick Tim Griffin, getting inside his defender near the crease and then beating Kern high for the winner in just the fifth overtime game in the series.

“The offense did a great job setting me up with a short stick and clearing some space,” Manown said. “We had a low clock so I had to just go for it and kind of stuck it.”

It was one of the few shots Kern didn’t snag. His 18 saves were the most by a goalie in the rivalry since at least 2005.

"He got the inside roll and we should have slid," Kern said. "I saw him coming in and I was telling myself 'I'm going to make this save, I'm going to make this save.' I was trying to match stick to stick, and he just pulled it high on me over my head. He made a good move."

Navy briefly led 3-2 in the first quarter, but would go scoreless for 23:49 as Army built a 6-3 advantage. The Black Knights took a 7-5 edge into the fourth quarter as the Mids struggled to get traction on offense.

"I gave the analogy of a baseball pitcher that just didn't have his best stuff today," Sowell said. "The fastball was a little off. The curveball wasn't breaking as sharp as it normally does, but he found a way to hang in there and fight.”

Navy dealt with its share of sloppiness (22 turnovers) and was 1 of 4 on extra man. But Army deftly kept the Mids out of transition, and senior midfielder Greyson Torain was limited to a goal as the Black Knights limited his room to move.

“I felt good about our defense and where we were,” Army coach Joe Alberici said. “Keeping them out of transition was the critical element for us, and most particular [Torain]. He has an amazing knack of getting after you when you’re not set.”

Navy tied it early in the fourth quarter when Daniel scored off a ride and Ryan Wade beat Barretto with a well-placed shot less than a minute later. However, Army reclaimed the lead as Miles Silva finished a nifty sequence off a Sean O’Brien feed with 12:39 left.

The Mids knotted it again when Daniel stuck Wade’s feed during an extra-man opportunity with 1:26 to go. Navy won the ensuing faceoff and set up for a possible game-winner, but Barretto stuffed Daniel with 11 seconds remaining and sent the game to overtime.

“Words can’t describe when you tie up the game on extra man like that,” Daniel said. “The next sequence is probably one that will stick with me for a while. With 30 seconds left, you have the ball behind and kind of want to wait for the last shot. I don’t think I made the best move I could have or made the smartest lacrosse decision I could have.”

It was a milestone game in the series, which began in 1924 and has run uninterrupted annually since 1933. Navy leads 61-36-3, but will have to live with the sting of losing the Star Game for the first time since 2014 for the next year.

However, it’s possible the teams will see each other again within a month in the Patriot League tournament --- which could mean an encore of two teams that were evenly matched for much of the afternoon.

In the interim, Navy has two regular season games remaining: Home dates with Syracuse and Boston University.

"Like I’ve said before and I’m going to say it every year I play this game, this is the most mentally and physically exhausting game, and somehow it always ends up being 75 degrees," Kern said. "I would love to get back out there and replay overtime or wish overtime wasn't a golden goal. Hopefully, we get to see them again in a couple weeks. But right now, we have to throw that out the window. We’ll lick our wounds for a day and focus on Syracuse on Monday.”

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