Though three wins in the 2017 NCAA Tournament remain unmatched in the annals of Navy women’s lacrosse, the 2018 squad added one to the books Wednesday night. The program’s third win over a nationally-ranked opponent — a 16-13 victory over 15th-ranked Virginia.
Behind an offensive onslaught that outscored the Cavs over the game’s first 40 minutes and boosted by a defensive effort that protected that lead and held Virginia to just one goal in the game’s final 22 minutes, this year’s Navy squad came away with not only the third win ever over a nationally-ranked team, but also a “signature win” for when the NCAA field is chosen next month.
Navy (10-3) had lost three earlier games this season to top 20 teams, including nationally-ranked conference foe Loyola, making winning the Patriot League title – and beating Loyola again – of great consequence. By beating Virginia (8-6), which has played 11 nationally-ranked schools this season, Navy defeated not just a nationally-ranked team this year, but one of the country’s perennial top 20 programs.
“They are always a tough team for us, we’re blessed to have them on our schedule,” said Navy coach Cindy Timchal. “For us, it was about moving on (after a loss to Loyola) against Virginia.
“We had to play tough the whole game,” she added. “They are battle tough, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
Several seniors played big roles in the win, including Julia Collins with three goals and four assists, Jenna Collins with a school-record eight groundballs, a goal and an assist, and goalie Ingrid Boyum, who had 10 saves against 35 shots and only allowed one goal over the game’s final 23 minutes.
Sophomore Kelly Larkin added a four-goal night, junior Andie O’Sullivan had one goal and three assists and junior Meg O’Donnell had three goals. Sophomore Kayla Harris (Broadneck) led the team with seven draw controls. Harris and Natalie Irwin had two goals each.
“This means everything to us, especially it being one of our last two home games. The seniors had played them three times and come up short each time,” said Julia Collins. “It was nice to get this one finally.”
Collins added that the win was also big in terms of prestige of schedule.
“We needed a signature win, this was it,” she added.
Boyum was run everywhere but loose for the first 30 minutes. Navy jumped to a 4-0 lead, but Virginia battled back to a 6-5 lead. Navy led 8-7 at the half, but Virginia grabbed the lead at 10-9 with back-to-back goals by Ana Hagerup and Maggie Jackson.
Navy followed with three straight goals by Harris, O’Sullivan and Larkin for a 12-10 lead. Virginia and Navy traded goals, the Cavs’ coming at 21:57, but Collins had two goals 17 minutes apart for a 15-12 lead.
Over that scoreless stretch, Navy’s defense stepped up and shut down the Cavs.
“Before the game, we decided to switch up and play our zone, but they adjusted better than we anticipated,” said Boyum of the difference between when Virginia’s offense was scoring and when it wasn’t. “So we switched back and took pride in our individual matchups. That made all the difference in how we played and in giving up shots I wanted to see.”
Boyum also talked about what it meant for the Mids to beat a program like Virginia.
“As the Naval Academy, playing a game in the middle of the week isn’t easy, especially against one of the top teams in the nation. We just decided to make this our night and go out there and play our hearts out.”
Larkin said the offense did a good job matching Virginia’s firepower and ball control — Navy had one less shot on goal, two more ground balls won, and had six more clears.
“UVA had a lot of great shooters and fast girls. There were times when UVA came back and we kept our composure,” said Larkin. We out-scrapped them.
But if was the defense that made the difference in the second half.
“Defense did a really great job holding their own today and that helped us in a lot of places,” said Larkin. “They came up with big plays when we needed them.”
Finally, Larkin said, the team may have played its most complete game of the season.
“We came as close to achieving playing a full sixty minutes as we have. We haven’t done that before,” said Larkin.
Timchal backed up the notion that the team played at its best, longer.
“I like that metaphor – play hard – I’m proud of defensive stops we had and the resilience we had to get back and play when things weren’t going our way,” Timchal said.
Virginia was led by Sammy Mueller’s six goals and two goals each by Kasey Behr and Chloe Jones.