The Midshipmen will face 10-time NCAA champion Syracuse for the first time since the 2004 National Championship.
A 2016 graduate of Towson, Spencer Parks will join forces with head coach Rick Sowell in coaching the Mids' offense.
Chris Fennell is Navy's first three-time All-American since Jordan DiNola took honors in 2006-07-08.
Rees closed out his career as the Mids' all-time leader in caused turnovers with 84.
Navy posted a 6-8 record, earned the program's 11th Patriot League Tournament appearance and defeated Army in the annual Star Game.
Navy vs. Army MLax - 4.15.17
Navy vs. Dartmouth MLax - 3.21.17
Navy-Maryland MLax 2.11.17
2016 Navy-Army MLax PL Tourney
2016 Navy-Colgate MLax
After guiding the Midshipmen back into the national spotlight, Sowell heads into his 19th season overall and sixth as Navy’s head coach.
With high hopes for a repeat of 2016, the 2017 got off to a challenging start with the loss of returning All-American midfielder Casey Rees, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury at the end of fall ball. Returning starting defenseman Hiram Carter played in just four games before a back injury ended his season. Returning starting attackman Jack Ray, meanwhile, broke his foot in the second game of the season and missed seven games. The Mids put together a 6-8 record, including a 4-4 mark in Patriot League play to tie for fourth. Along the way, Navy posted a 10-6 win over eighth-ranked Army at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to win the program’s third consecutive Star Game and the win clinched the overall series in Navy’s favor.
Senior Chris Fennell became the first player in conference history to be named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year after being named a unanimous first-team pick in 2017, while Brady Dove became just the 13th player in Patriot League history, including the first faceoff specialist, to earn All-Patriot League recognition four times.
Dove finished his senior year ranked #3 in the country in faceoff percentage (169-254, 66.5). He also closed out his career as the program’s record holder in career faceoff wins (637), single-game faceoff wins (21, 2x in 2017), single-game faceoff wins at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (21, 2x in 2017), career ground balls (348), single-season ground balls (100 in 2017) and single-game ground balls (17 in 2017).
Earning All-America honors were Fennell, senior long pole Matt Rees and sophomore midfielder Greyson Torain, who turned in the fourth-most points (38) by a midfielder in school history.
Rees graduated as the Mids’ all-time leader in caused turnovers (84) and his 19 points and 15 goals are the best among defensemen / long poles in program history.
Junior Dave Little scored a school and Patriot League-record nine goals on a remarkable nine shots in the Mids’ win over Lehigh. It was the most goals scored by any player in Div. I in 2017. The previous school record was set in 1943 by Robert Booze who scored eight goals.
Fennell went on to win the NAAA Sword for Men, which is presented to the midshipman of the graduating class to have personally excelled in athletics during his years of varsity competition.
Armed with the nation’s #2-ranked defense and one of their most potent offensive units in recent memory, the 2016 Midshipmen posted an 11-5 record and earned the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2009. Navy finished the season ranked among the top 15 in both the USILA Coaches Poll (#15) and the Cascade/Maverik Media Poll (#9), marking the first time it has finished the season ranked in either poll since 2009 (#12 USILA). Navy eclipsed the 10-win milestone for the first time since 2009 (11-5), while falling just short of sweeping Patriot League play with a 7-1 mark (lost to Boston U. in double overtime). Sowell again was voted the Patriot League Coach of the Year after directing the Mids to a share of the regular-season title for a second straight year.
Navy was awarded an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament where the Mids would upset fourth-seeded and third-ranked Yale, 13-10. It was the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory since 2008. The Mids’ season would end a week later, coming up a goal short in an 11-10 decision against fifth-seeded and fourth-ranked Brown on its home field.
Sowell, meanwhile, became just the third coach in NCAA history to lead three different Div. I programs to the NCAA Tournament – Dartmouth in 2003, Stony Brook in 2010, Navy in 2016 (Jack Emmer and Tony Seaman are the other two). He is the ONLY active current coach to have achieved the feat.
A number of Navy players were rewarded for their play, including defenseman Chris Fennell (Second-Team All-American, Patriot League Defensive Player of the year, Unanimous First-Team All-Patriot League), long pole Matt Rees (Third-Team All-American, First-Team All-Patriot League), midfielder Casey Rees (Honorable Mention All-American, Unanimous First-Team All-Patriot League), John Connors (Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year, First-Team All-Patriot League), Patrick Keena (First-Team All-Patriot League) and Brady Dove (Second-Team All-Patriot League).
Among Navy’s long list of wins in 2016 was a 10-6 victory over Academy rival Air Force (10-6) in the opener, along with a 10-9 triumph against nationally-ranked Loyola (10-9) in Annapolis. Navy won the Star Game against archrival Army for a second straight year after Casey Rees punched in the game-winner in extra minutes to lead the Mids to an 11-10 victory at West Point.
Sowell saw his team develop on both ends of the field as the defense stood #2 in the country, holding its opponents to 7.38 goals per game. It’s the program’s best finish since leading the country with a 5.47 average in 2006, while the 7.38 average was Navy’s lowest since 2008 when it gave up 6.50 goals per game. Navy (16 gms), Monmouth (14 gms) and Detroit (12 gms) allowed the fewest goals in the country with just 118 and the Mids gave up double-digit goals in just six of their 16 games. Connors stood #2 nationally in goals-against average (7.25) and #9 in save percentage (56.8).
Offensively, Navy averaged 9.88 goals per game, its best scoring mark since 2007 when it scored at an 11.00 clip. Navy also vastly improved in the extra-man offense category, scoring on 36.4 percent of its opportunities. It marked the best EMO percentage by the Mids since 2010 when they scored 22 goals on 58 opportunities for a 37.9 efficiency mark.
Leading the way on offense for the Mids was Keena who produced 55 points on 24 goals and 31 assists. The 55 points are the most by a Navy player since Ian Dingman finished the 2004 season with 62. Additionally, Keena is the first Navy player to score 20 goals and deal out 30 assists in a season since National Lacrosse Hall of Famer Glen Miles posted 23 goals and 30 assists in 1986. Casey Rees also had a breakthrough season, turning in 37 points on a team-best 34 goals and three assists. The 34 goals are the most by a Navy player since 2004 when Joe Bossi pumped in 44 and Ian Dingman scored 36. Meanwhile, it’s the third-most goals in program history scored by a midfielder and the most since Brian Keith set the record (41) in 1989. Rees combined for nine goals in the NCAA Tournament, tying the school record for most goals scored in the postseason tournament (season) set by Mike Hannan in 1978.
Sowell led the Mids to a 9-5 record that included a program-record five one-goal victories in 2015. Additionally, Navy produced a 6-2 Patriot League record en route to capturing a share of its sixth Patriot League regular-season crown and earning the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. While Navy put four players on the All-Patriot League Team, two on first team (Brady Dove, Chris Fennell) and two on the second (John Connors, Matt Rees), Chris Fennell was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and Sowell was voted the Patriot League Coach of the Year.
On his watch, Navy boasted one of the nation’s top faceoff squads in the country, finishing the year ranked eighth (.600), while its defense stood 13th in scoring defense (8.57) and eighth in caused turnovers (8.07). Anchoring the defense was sophomore Chris Fennell, who captured Third-Team All-America honors.
Among Navy’s nine wins was a 10-7 victory over arch rival Army West Point in which Fennell shut down three-time All-American attackman John Glesener to hold the Cadets to their third-lowest scoring output of the year.
Sowell also achieved a milestone coaching victory, scoring a 21-7 victory over VMI in the opener to post his 100th collegiate victory. He has amassed a 108-112 career record and a 22-31 mark at the Academy.
In 2014, the Mids won just four of their 14 games, but dropped one-goal decisions to No. 1-ranked Loyola (7-6) in double overtime and to sixth-ranked Johns Hopkins (6-5). The addition of Loyola and Boston University to the Patriot League expanded the postseason conference tournament to six teams and Navy earned the opportunity to play in the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2010.
The Mids improved in nearly every statistical category including faceoff percentage, where Second-Team All-Patriot League draw specialist Brady Dove won 56.4 percent of his draws and was ranked 20th in the country. Dove’s 163 faceoff wins in 2014 were just 10 shy of the record held by Chris Pieczonka during Navy’s run to the National Championship Game in 2004.
In 2013, his Midshipmen finished No. 2 nationally in caused turnovers per game, averaging 10.0 takeaways, and were led by Austin Miller (2.31) and Pat Kiernan (2.00) who were ranked seventh and 12th, respectively. Kiernan concluded his junior season by garnering First-Team All-Patriot League laurels.
Over the course of the season the attack combo of Tucker Hull and Sam Jones became only the third set of classmates in program history to reach 100 points, joining Mike Herger (197) and Brian Keith (134) from the Class of 1990 and Ian Dingman (188) and Billy Looney (103) from the Class of 2007. Hull heads into his senior campaign tied for 23rd on Navy’s all-time scoring list with 106 points, while Jones is 26th with 102 points.
Meanwhile, Sam Jones and Tucker Hull graduated as the program’s No. 10 and 14 scorers. Jones produced 144 points, while Hull turned in 135. Both finished among Navy’s top 20 leaders in both goals and assists, as well.
In his first season at the Naval Academy, Sowell directed the Midshipmen to a 6-6 record, including a 3-3 mark in Patriot League action which featured a 12-11 victory over 12th-ranked Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y. It marked Navy’s first .500-win season since 2009.
Navy capped off the year with an 8-2 rout over No. 6 Johns Hopkins in front of better than 11,000 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The six-goal victory by the Mids marked their largest margin of victory in the series since 1965 when Navy scored a 15-6 win over the Blue Jays on their home field. Meanwhile, the Class of 2012 became the first class since 1974 to graduate having twice beaten Hopkins.
On a national level, the Mids were ranked among the top 10 (eighth) man-down defensive units in the country, shutting down 75 percent (30 of 40) of their opponents’ extra-man opportunities. The previous two seasons the Mids had been ranked 29th and 36th. Meanwhile, after struggling in 2011 (38th, 9.62 GPG), the Mids bounced back on defense as a whole, surrendering 8.92 goals per game to rank 14th nationally. Two other areas Navy improved upon in 2012 were shot percentage (13th, 31.1) and turnovers per game (11th, 14.08).
Prior to his arrival in Annapolis, Sowell compiled a 47-26 (.644) record in five seasons at Stony Brook and was named the America East Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons as he guided the Seawolves to back-to-back America East regular-season titles (2010-11).
Stony Brook finished the 2011 campaign with a 10-4 mark, including a 5-0 record in conference play. The Seawolves just missed a second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament when they lost in the America East Championship Game by a goal.
In 2010, Sowell led Stony Brook to the program’s first America East regular-season title, a school-record 13 wins, a national ranking as high as No. 6 and a 9-7 victory over Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Seawolves were just a game away from advancing to the school’s first-ever final four, narrowly losing in to Virginia in the quarterfinals, 10-9. Stony Brook had four players earn All-America honors, including Kevin Crowley who was the school’s first First-Team All-American and was named the USILA Player of the Year.
Sowell, who was an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning Team USA at the 2010 World Championships in England, led Stony Brook to a 9-6 record in 2009 and a final ranking of No. 20 in the country. It marked the school’s first end-of-the-season national ranking. Stony Brook finished 4-1 in America East and stood as the regular season co-champions.
Prior to Stony Brook, Sowell was tapped to head the rebirth of the St. John’s lacrosse program that had been dormant since 1995. Sowell had just one season to recruit before the Red Storm took the field in 2005.
Sowell was the head coach at Dartmouth from 1999-2003 and revived the Big Green program, taking the team from last place in the Ivy League to first.
In his final season at Dartmouth in 2003, Sowell’s squad posted an 11-3 record and won the Ivy League with a 5-1 record. It was Dartmouth’s first Ivy League title since 1965 and just the third Ivy League title in school history.
During the title run, the Big Green upset No. 2 Princeton marking the first time that Dartmouth had won at Princeton since 1958. Sowell was also named the NEILA Coach of the Year that season.
Sowell served as an assistant at Georgetown from 1990-98 where the Hoyas grew from an also-ran to a national contender. In 1998, the Hoyas finished 10-5 overall and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA’s.
Sowell’s coaching career began at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., where he helped guide the Shoremen to the NCAA Division III national title game in 1986 and the semifinal round in 1987.
Before dedicating his life to coaching, Sowell played lacrosse at all levels. He began his college career in 1982 at the State University of New York before transferring to Washington College prior to the 1984 season.
At Washington College, Sowell was named the 1985 Division III National Midfielder of the Year and was also a two-time All-American. He helped lead Washington College to the Division III national championship game twice. In Sowell’s senior campaign he was team captain and earned the Dr. Charles B. Clark MVP Award.
His 45 goals and 14 assists earned him Division III First-Team All-America honors and an invitation to participate in the annual North-South All-Star Game.
Sowell spent five years with the Baltimore Thunder of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL), where he was a first-team all-pro selection three times.
Sowell graduated from Washington College in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He was inducted into the Washington College Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Potomac Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame in February of 2013.
Sowell, and his wife, Catherine, are the parents of two daughters, Kennady and Avery.