BALTIMORE – Navy's bench players performed a choreographed celebration on the sidelines every time their team scored. The Midshipmen did pushups, waved their sticks back and forth in unison and did various dances and cheers.
Those reserves had to dig deep into their bag of tricks during Sunday's NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament matchup against Patriot League rival Loyola.
Sophomore attacker Kelly Larkin led the way with seven points as seventh-ranked Navy used an impressive offensive display to outgun No. 10 Loyola, 19-15, in a second-round contest on a dark, overcast day at Ridley Athletic Complex.
"I'm proud of the team and excited about moving on because we always know it could be your last game at this time of the year with May Madness," Navy head coach Cindy Timchal said. "So we are very happy with the victory and on to the next round."
Larkin was the catalyst from start to finish in totaling three goals and four assists for Navy, which built an 11-5 halftime lead then answered every Loyola run the rest of the way to win the rubber match between the schools.
"I'm kind of at a loss for words right now. The feeling is just so surreal. It's really hard to beat a team for the second time, especially a team as good as Loyola," said Larkin, who now has 115 points this season. "I think we knew going into the game that we had to really step up and I'm very proud of how the whole team played today."
Senior midfielder Jenna Collins scored five goals and assisted on another for Navy (18-3), which advances to the quarterfinal round for the second straight season. Sophomore midfielder Kayla Harris tied her career-high with four goals for the Midshipmen, who never trailed.
"Every game I go out and try to do my best and if my teammates set me up, I have to finish," said Harris, a Broadneck High graduate. "I guess they were focusing a lot on Julia and Jenna and that's when I get to take advantage."
All four goals Harris scored came off feeds from Larkin, who usually runs the Navy offense from behind the cage. "Kayla and I had a little bit of chemistry going on today. We were roommates for this whole trip so maybe that helped create a connection," Larkin said.
It marked the most goals Navy has ever scored in 10 games against Loyola, which has never lost a regular season game (43-0) in five years of Patriot League play. However, the Greyhounds have now been beaten by the Midshipmen three times in the postseason.
"It was a game of runs and momentum swings, and Navy was able to sustain theirs longer than ours. I felt like we would make a strong push at them and they would be able to build the gap again," Loyola head coach Jen Adams said. "It's tough falling behind and feeling like you're always digging out of a hole. You just cannot do that against a side as tough as Navy."
Loyola earned the eighth seed in the NCAA Tournament despite losing 17-10 to Navy in the Patriot League Tournament championship last Sunday. The Midshipmen showed on Sunday that may have been a mistake.
"Coming back up here to Loyola after last weekend's emotional win was tough. Just credit the players for staying strong, believing in themselves and really being resilient with the ebbs and flows of the game," Timchal said. "We played a very fierce, well-coached and fiery Loyola team today. All credit to Jen Adams for having such a wonderful team and pushing us to the limits."
Senior attack Jenna Collins contributed three goals and an assist for Navy, which will meet top-seeded Maryland (19-1) next weekend in College Park. It will be the first meeting between the Terrapins and Midshipmen. Maryland is riding a 17-game winning streak after routing Denver 15-4 on Sunday.
"Obviously, Maryland is one of the best teams in the country and is going to give us a really good fight," Larkin said. "If we show up the way we did today, I think anything is possible. We're super excited to take them on."
Timchal served as head coach at Maryland for 16 years (1991-2006) and compiled a 260-46 record. She led the Terrapins to eight national championships before departing to direct Navy's transition from club status to varsity program.
"I don't know, we have to play them some time," Timchal said when asked her thoughts on facing Maryland. "It's exciting for our players to have this opportunity. We obviously respect the defending national champs and know we will have to play tough and hard against this brilliant Maryland Terps team."
Freshman Livy Rosenzweig equaled a career-high with nine points to lead Loyola (16-5), which outscored Navy 10-8 in the second half to keep things interesting. Rosenzweig scored five goals and dished off four assists to set the single-season school record with 102 points.
Jenna Collins scored consecutive goals off a free position opportunity and during a player advantage situation to spark the first-half run that gave the Mids some separation. Larkin scored a goal and assisted Harris for two more as Navy outscored Loyola 7-2 over the final 21:43 of the first half.
Loyola opened the second half with a 3-0 run to cut the deficit to 11-8, but Jenna Collins scored twice as Navy responded with five straight goals to take its largest lead of eight goals, 16-8 at the 22:19 mark.
Rosenzweig scored two goals and assisted another to spearhead one final push for the Greyhounds, who went on a 4-0 run to close within 17-13 with 13:31 remaining. The Collins twins pretty much closed it out with consecutive goals with Jenna scoring off a free position and Julia dodging for an unassisted tally that restored a six-goal advantage with 8:09 to go.
Navy was awarded nine free position shots and finished four while Loyola managed just one goal on four free position opportunities. The Greyhounds committed 13 turnovers and Adams felt missed opportunities on the offensive end were the story of the game.
"We had a couple bad errors and throwaways that did cost us possessions," she said. "I thought there were some fouls that maybe weren't called in terms of putting us on the eight and giving us a good look at the cage."
Navy (18-3) 11-8=19
Loyola (16-5) 5-10=15
GOALS: N – Jenna Collins 5, Julia Collins 4, Harris 4, Larkin 3, O'Donnell, Victory, A. O'Sullivan. L – Rosenzweig 5, Powers 3, Savage 2, Fiedler 2, Cooper 2, VanThof. ASSISTS: N – Larkin 4, Jenna Collins, Julia Collins, Irwin. L – Rosenzweig 4, Savage 2, Ballard, Fielder, Powers. SHOTS: N – 34. L – 27. SAVES: N – Boyum 7. L – Glynn 9. DRAWS: N – 17. L – 19. GROUND BALLS: N – 17. L – 8. TURNOVERS: N – 9. L – 13.