ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Four games against teams who qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championship highlight the 2013 Navy men’s lacrosse schedule released by second-year head coach Rick Sowell on Tuesday. Additionally, Navy will play host to six home games played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, including its April 5 contest against NCAA finalist Maryland.
“We are excited about the challenge our 2013 schedule presents,” said Sowell, who guided the Midshipmen to a 6-6 record in his first season and featured wins over nationally-ranked Colgate and Johns Hopkins. “Parity in Division I lacrosse is at an all-time high and we’ll need to be on top of our game each and every week.”
The Midshipmen kick off their spring season with a pair of scrimmages on the road against two of the most successful programs in recent memory. Navy will battle Duke, a team who has played in six consecutive NCAA Tournaments and was a semifinalist a year ago, in Durham on Jan. 26. Meanwhile, the Mids are set to take on Virginia in Charlottesville on Feb. 2 in their final preseason tune-up. Virginia has earned the second-most NCAA Tournament invitations with 35, including dates to the Dance in each of the last eight years, and has won five National Championships.
For the sixth consecutive year, Navy will play its season opener against VMI when the two teams face off on Feb. 9 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Last year attackmen Tucker Hull (Charlotte, N.C.) and Sam Jones (Annapolis, Md.) combined for 17 points, including 11 goals, as the Mids scored a 14-7 victory over the Keydets.
The Midshipmen will play the first of two new opponents on its 2013 schedule with a Friday, Feb. 15 contest against Detroit in Annapolis. The Titans are in their fifth year as a Div. I program, returning 35 members from a squad that posted a 6-9 record and was the No. 2 seed in the MAAC Tournament last spring.
Just four days later, Navy will make the trek to Fairfield, Conn. to battle the Stags in a midweek meeting at Lessing Field in the inaugural meeting between the two programs. Fairfield, which was elevated to a varsity program in 1993, won a program-record 12 games in 2012 and twice reached a program-best national ranking of 13th during the year. For the second consecutive season the Stags upset the second seed to advance to the ECAC Championship Game, where it fell to eventual National Champion Loyola.
The Fairfield contest kicks off three consecutive road games for the Midshipmen. Following it’s Tuesday matchup against the Stags, Navy rekindles its series with Georgetown on Sunday, Feb. 24. A scheduling glitch in moving Patriot League foe Lehigh from a week day to a weekend pushed the annual tilt between the Mids and Hoyas off last spring’s schedule. The two will pick the series in Washington, D.C., meeting for the 23rd time overall and the 23rd time in the last 24 years.
“I’ve always enjoyed adding new teams to the schedule and the addition of teams such as up-and-coming Detroit, as well as Fairfield, who is coming off the program’s most successful season and past rival Georgetown, we will have our hands full leading up to Patriot League play. This will be a real test and prepare us for league play, a league that by all accounts is the best it has ever been.”
The Midshipmen begin their quest for the program’s sixth Patriot League title when they travel to Lewisburg, Pa. on Saturday, March 2. Navy will face Bucknell in their league opener for the fifth time overall and the fourth time in the last five years. While Navy holds a 7-5 advantage, six of the 10 league matchups have been decided by one goal, including five of the last six.
Navy plays its next three games over the course of just eight days with two of the three contests played in Annapolis. Kicking things off will be a March 9 contest at home against Lafayette, a program Navy owns a 13-1 series record against. Three days later (March 12), the Mids will briefly step away from Patriot League action to play host toTowson. Last year the Mids outscored the Tigers 5-1 in the third period to overcome a 2-1 halftime deficit and go on to win by a 10-6 decision.
Navy plays its final game over the eight-day span on the road, traveling to Worcester, Mass. to face Patriot League foe Holy Cross. The Mids staged a strong second half effort on both ends of the field outscoring the Crusaders 5-1 in the second half and holding them scoreless for the final 26 minutes of the contest en route to a 13-7 win.
Like the Bucknell series, the annual Navy-Colgate matchup has turned into its own rivalry. Though the Mids have a handle on the series with an 11-4 advantage, the last five games have proven to be nail-biters with each of the last five meetings decided by a goal. Last year Sam Jones slipped the defense on the crease, scoring the game-winner with 3.4 seconds left and leading the Midshipmen to a 12-11 victory over 12th-ranked Colgate. The Raiders went on to finish the season with a 14-4 record and played their way into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This year’s Navy-Colgate matchup is slated to be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. on March 23 as part of the 2013 Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic. The Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic will feature the Mids and Raiders in the opener at 2:00 pm, followed by Virginia vs. Johns Hopkins at 4:30 pm.
“We are thrilled to participate in the 2013 Konica Minolta Face Off Classic,” added Sowell. “To have the opportunity to play before a national audience at such a premier venue, M&T Bank Stadium, against a strong conference opponent is what every coach asks for. Colgate had a great season last year and returns a very good team in 2013, if not better than the quarterfinal team of 2012. If this game is anything like last year’s, then the fans are in for a real treat.”
Navy will travel to Lehigh on March 30 in what will be the fourth game played in Bethlehem between the two programs in the last five years. Traditionally played in the middle of the week, the two programs made the decision to move the game to a Saturday for the first time since Navy joined the league in 2004. The Mids own a 28-3 series advantage against the Mountain Hawks who a year ago finished 14-3 and earned an NCAA Tournament berth by way of winning the Patriot League Tournament.
Fans have been treated to some great battles between Maryland and Navy over the last decade and on April 5 the rivalry will continue as the two meet at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. While the two programs have met 87 times, they have battled in each of the last 67 years which is the second-longest continuous series Navy has with another team (Army, 80-consecutive years). Eight of the last 14 games between the two have been decided by one goal, while five of the last seven battles in Annapolis have been decided by two or fewer goals.
One of the sport’s longest and most cherished rivalries, the Army-Navy Star Game will be played on Saturday, April 13 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis in what will be the 92nd meeting between the two service academies. The Mids own a 57-31-3 series advantage, including wins in 14 of the last 19 games.
“Having a chance to experience the intense Army-Navy rivalry on the road last season, I could not be more excited to play this game at Navy Marine Memorial Stadium before the entire Brigade and our passionate Navy lacrosse faithful, said Sowell.”
For the 10th straight year, Navy will close out the regular season by facing Johns Hopkins on April 20. After losing 36 consecutive games to the Blue Jays from 1975-2009, the Midshipmen have taken two of the last three from Johns Hopkins including an 8-2 route in Annapolis last spring. Navy, though, has not been able to enjoy a win at Homewood Field since 1969 when the Mids claimed a 9-6 win in Baltimore.
Finally, the four-team Patriot League Tournament is slated to be played April 26-28 at the site of the highest seed. Since joining the league in 2004, the Midshipmen have played host to four of the eight tournaments and have claimed the title five times. Navy owns an 11-2 all-time record in the Patriot League Tournament.
“The Patriot League has established itself as one of the toughest conferences in Division I,” said Sowell. “Each of our Patriot League games will be intense and hard-fought battles. Our focus will be to take one game at a time with the goal of competing in the NCAA Tournament as Patriot League Champions.”
Navy’s television schedule was unavailable at press time and will be released at a later date.