The venues change. The outcomes have only slightly wavered.
Loyola. Bucknell. Colgate (at home). Georgetown.
All managed one-goal defeats of Navy. All left coach Richie Meade and the Midshipmen flustered.
“I’m proud of the effort,” Meade said after Friday’s 9-8 loss to Georgetown. “I’ve been proud of the effort all year. I’m disappointed with the result. It’s been one of those years where we can’t seem to find out way out to the top of the well. But we ain’t done yet.”
In a wider angle, the Mids (4-6) probably will be unless they win out. That means defeating Maryland, Army and Johns Hopkins in succession.
Not that Navy is to be entirely counted out, as Georgetown (4-4) was reminded Friday.
Down 9-5 with five minutes left, the Mids managed to rattle off three straight goals (one each by freshman attackmen Tucker Hull and Sam Jones, another on a pole-to-pole transition goal in the final minute) and win the final faceoff before turning it over and leaving with yet another tight loss.
Navy did so without senior midfielder Andy Warner, whose presence has made the Navy offense work for much of the season. Warner sat out with a concussions suffered a week earlier against Colgate.
Still, it was a similar outcome to what Navy has experienced throughout the season, and it happened despite a career-best 20 saves from RJ Wickham.
It was one more frustration, one more loss, one more outcome that rankled the Mids in a season littered with all of the above.
“It’s another extremely close game that we shouldn’t have lost,” Hull said. “Honestly, everyone’s getting pretty worked up. These next teams better be looking out, because we’re going to be coming at you.”
That would seem a message aimed, at least initially, at Maryland. The Terrapins visit Annapolis on Friday, and have lost five of their last seven meetings with the Mids.
In reality, it’s a note of caution for both the immediate and extended future, though 2012 is far from the minds of the current Mids. Navy’s penchant for close games means it will be a danger to its remaining opponents.
The only way most will acknowledge it, though, is with a change of outcome.
“Without any offense to any team that we’ve played, that’s one of the better teams we’ve played, and we could be 9-1 right now,” Meade said. “But we’re not. There’s no relief. You have to shake it off and get back to work on Monday.”
—- Patrick Stevens