Men's Soccer Wins First Patriot League Title; Earns NCAA Berth
Nov. 17, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md - The Navy men's soccer team (15-3-2) won the 2013 Patriot League Championship by defeating Holy Cross (9-9-2), 2-0, at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility on Sunday. Navy will advance to the 2013 NCAA Tournament with the league's automatic berth and will learn its opponent on Monday at 12 noon during the NCAA Selection Show on NCAA.com.
"I'm very proud of our guys," head coach Dave Brandt said. "This was important for us. This was an opportunity that we just couldn't not show up for after the season we've had and we absolutely showed up today. This was our doorway into the NCAAs, but it was not the means to an end, it's not the end itself. We aim to be counted in the NCAA Tournament and we have a great opportunity this week."
Junior Geoff Fries scored the game-winning goal in the 39th minute after Navy started a counterattack. A high-arcing ball came down at midfield and senior Patrick Sopko, facing Navy's own goal, hit a bicycle kick back over his head that sent Fries free on a breakaway. Fries took the ball and raced forward and shot a low ball to the right corner for his first goal of the season.
"I just started running because I knew Pat could do that," said Fries. "It takes a great touch and he flicked it over and I got through. The keeper started to come up and then dropped back and it was an easy finish."
Navy added a second goal just two minutes into the second half when senior Martin Sanchez's corner kick was met by the head of junior Joseph Greenspan. Holy Cross' goalkeeper Kevin Wright got a hand on it, but not enough to keep it out of the goal. It was Greenspan's seventh goal of the season.
Greenspan made a great play on the defensive end in the 70th minute to clear away a dangerous ball after goalkeeper Gavin Snyder got caught in a bad position. Greenspan also had one of Navy's best chances in the first half before Fries' goal when he sent a free kick off the left post.
Snyder only needed to make one save to pick up his ninth shutout of the season and improve to 14-0-0. Snyder has a 0.28 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage this season.
The shutout was Navy's 10th of the season, which is a new program record.
Navy outshot Holy Cross, 18-4, and held a 7-0 edge on corner kicks.
Navy won its 14th-straight game, which is the longest active streak in the nation, and the Mids tie a program record with their 15th win of the season. The Mids also went 11-0-0 against Patriot League schools this season and went 8-1 at home.
Navy wins its first Patriot League Tournament title after joining the league in 1991 and the team had been the runner-up three times. Navy will be making its 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its first since 1988.
Navy was the top seed and host of the Patriot League Tournament, while Holy Cross was the No. 3 seed.
Dave Arnold became Navy's all-time leader in games played with his 72nd cap on Sunday.
Senior Guy Skord was named the Patriot League Tournament MVP and he was joined on the all-tournament team by Derek Vogel, Martin Sanchez and Greenspan. Holy Cross' Kevin Wright, Joey DeVivo and Dane Kenny were named to the all-tournament team, along with Army's Winston Boldt and Alex Jaroscak and Bucknell's Jesse Klug and Joe Myer.
Navy's NCAA First Round game will be Thursday, November 21 and the NCAA Second Round will be Sunday, November 24. Navy will be one of 48 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
"This is something the senior class has been working towards for awhile," senior team captain Zach Davis said. "We've felt that we've been capable of this for a long time and now we are excited to be able to keep it going."
2013 Patriot League Champions