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Navy men’s lacrosse coach Rick Sowell: Failing to reach Patriot League title game is ‘going to stick in our craw’

For the third time in the past four years, the Navy men’s lacrosse earned a share of the Patriot League’s regular-season championship. But parlaying that success into postseason hardware has been an exercise in frustration.

The team’s 10-9 overtime loss to Lehigh in the conference tournament semifinals on April 27 marked the third time in the last four seasons that the Midshipmen were denied an opportunity to advance to the title game and play for the crown.

In 2015, that squad tied Colgate for the regular-season championship, but fell to Army in the semifinals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The following year, the team split the title with Loyola Maryland, but was upended by the Black Knights again in the semifinals in Annapolis.

The setback to the Mountain Hawks took place at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore, which removed the pain of losing in front of a home crowd. But coach Rick Sowell acknowledged the angst associated with failing to reach the Patriot League tournament final.

“That’s going to stick in our craw,” he said. “For the returning team, that will be something that we won’t forget. But obviously for the seniors, this was their last crack at it, and that will be something that they’ll think, ‘That’s a goal we didn’t quite accomplish.’ We know how competitive our conference is, and it’s tough. We’ve put ourselves in a pretty good situation, but just have not been able to capitalize on it in the actual tournament. That’s one of those things that we will continue to work on and try to address, and sooner or later, you’d like to think that we’ll make some good things happen in the tournament.”

Maybe Sowell is right and the law of averages will eventually reward Navy for its disappointment. But that might be of little consolation to the players who have had to endure premature ends to their seasons.

Still, Sowell said he can take some solace in knowing the players and coaches alike are determined to end the skid – sooner rather than later.

“It certainly isn’t for a lack of trying,” he said. “We know that. It’s just one of those monkeys we’re going to have to get off our back, and hopefully it’s in 2019.”

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