ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Navy (8-4, 6-2 Patriot League) scored seven of the final eight goals to overcome a 6-3 deficit and beat 13th-ranked Army (8-4, 4-3 PL) 10-7 on Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial.
Not only were the traditional bragging rights on the line, both Army and Navy came into the contest in the midst of a dog fight atop the league standings.
“It’s tough to put the words to what just happened on the field,” Navy head coach Rick Sowell said. “The willingness of this team to scrap and hustle. It’s not always pretty, but they bang and fight and find a way to get it done. I’m so proud of my players.
“I don’t know if I’ve coached a team with this much chemistry. If you have a team that believes, has good chemistry and holds each other accountable, you can go a long way.”
Army came into the game having won six in a row against the Midshipmen, including two consecutive in Annapolis. Armed with the No. 2-ranked defense in the country and the Patriot League’s preseason offensive player of the year, the Black Knights jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter with four different players scoring goals.
Trailing 6-3 late in the third quarter, Navy held Army without a goal for 17 minutes, scoring seven in a row, including six consecutive in the fourth quarter.
Navy’s run began with four seconds remaining in the third when Jack Ray took possession of the ball behind the cage and bulled his way to the left crease and despite behind pushed from behind, punched in his 17th goal of the season.
T.J. Hanzsche extended his point and goal-scoring streak to 13 consecutive games when he beat his defender and sent his lefty shot to the far post to get Navy to within one (6-5) with 12:16 to go in the game.
The Mids knotted it up at 6-6 when Casey Rees and Gabe Voumard worked together and Rees found the back of the net for his first career hat trick. The rookie came into the contest having scored just three goals this season.
With 6:48 left, Colin Flounlacker gave the Mids their first lead of the game, a lead they would not relinquish, as he ducked under his defender and punched in the go-ahead goal from the crease.
Navy received a pair of insurance goals by Patrick Keena and an open-net goal by Hanzsche to put the game out of reach.
Led by Rees’ three goals, six different players scored for the Midshipmen as they put up double-digit goals for the first time in the series since 2007. Navy joined second-ranked Syracuse (12) and Loyola (12) as the only teams to score 10 or more goals against the Black Knights this season. Army came into the contest holding its foes to just 6.55 goals per game, the nation’s second-best mark.