Midshipmen didn’t get a day off like they did when the football team beat Notre Dame in 2007 to break its 43-game losing streak against the Fighting Irish, but the Navy lacrosse team’s win over Johns Hopkins on Saturday is similarly historic.
Junior attackman Andy Warner’s overtime goal broke a 36-game losing streak to the Baltimore private university known mostly for its medical school and its lacrosse team. Warner’s goal came with 10 seconds left in overtime and lifted the Midshipmen to a 9-8 win.
If there’s any doubt how much this win meant to Navy lacrosse, just look at what Navy coach Rich Meade told his team before the game, according to The (Annapolis) Capital.
“Before this game, I looked every one of them in the eye and said, ‘You’re Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, your future leaders and people’s lives are going to be in your hands. You understand the mission, you understand what you’re required to do, and now I want you to go out and get it done.’ “
Despite the emphatic pre-game speech, Navy found itself down 5-0 after the first quarter. The Midshipmen owned the second quarter, though, scoring six goals to take a 6-5 lead into halftime.
In a game dictated by runs, Johns Hopkins scored three straight to open the second half to take an 8-6 lead. However, Navy again fought back to send the game to overtime knotted at 8-8.
After Warner buried the game winner, Bill Wagner of The Capital wrote that several former Navy lacrosse players streamed into the locker room to thank this year’s players.
“This is important for our alumni. There were a lot of guys in the locker room who were great players here and were not successful in this game,” Meade told Wagner. “It means so much to me that this game means so much to them.”
Meade would know better than anyone what this win means. He has seen the most losses first hand. Since taking over the program, he has lost to the Blue Jays 16 straight years.
The win not only ended the losing streak, it also provided some much needed momentum heading into this weekend’s Patriot League Tournament. Navy plays Lafayette on Friday in the 2-3 matchup at West Point for the right to likely play tournament host Army.
Navy has to win this weekend’s tournament to earn Patriot League’s automatic bid for an invite to the NCAA tournament. Johns Hopkins, ranked No. 17 nationally, finished a disappointing year at 5-7 and will likely miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in 39 years.
Beating Johns Hopkins in a down year, though, didn’t temper the excitement on Navy’s sideline.
“I’ve walked off this field and into the locker room having to face my team, knowing they played their hearts out and didn’t win,” Meade said. “To our players and those guys who weren’t successful in beating Hopkins along the way, this means so much to them. It means so much to me to have them here with us today and experiencing it. I’m just extremely proud of our team.”