ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A league champion will be crowned Saturday night, as the fourth-seeded Navy men’s soccer team (6-4-9, 3-1-5 PL) is set to host No. 6 seed American (8-6-5, 3-4-2 PL) in the Patriot League Championship on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. from the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.
Advancing to the league finals for the first time under head coach Tim O’Donohue, the Midshipmen are now seeking their second PL Tournament title in program history and Navy’s 12th NCAA Tournament appearance. For the visiting Eagles, they are in the league’s championship game for the third-straight season and are looking for their fourth league title.
Jackson Wins PL Midfielder of the Year
David Jackson matched preseason predictions, as the Navy junior was named the 2022 Patriot League Midfielder of the Year last Friday.
Picked as the Preseason PL Midfielder of the Year in August, Jackson earned the league’s top midfielder award after tallying a team-high six goals with three assists in 16 games played.
The Cypress, Texas native made history when he put together a five-game scoring streak from Sept. 9-28, the longest goal streak by a Navy player since 1968, and had three-straight contests with a penalty-kick goal during that stretch.
Four Mids Named All-Patriot League
Jackson was one of four Midshipmen to pick up all-league honors last Friday, as Jackson was named to the All-Patriot League First Team along with senior defender JD Wagner, while junior forward Baba Kallie was picked to the All-Patriot League Second Team and sophomore midfielder Noah Ward received All-Patriot League Third Team accolades.
A third-team selection last season, Wagner finished the regular season with one assist and 16 starts, as the team captain was part of a Navy backline that held opponents to one goal per game in the regular season.
Finishing second on the team with four goals, Kallie earned all-league honors for the third-straight season, adding on a career-high two assists and pacing the Mids with 29 shots entering the postseason.
Ward was third on the team with six points, notching four assists on the season and tallying his first collegiate goal at Lehigh last month.
Mids in the Patriot League Tournament
Saturday’s final marks the first PL Championship game appearance by the Mids since 2013 and the program’s fifth all-time appearance in the league final.
Navy holds a 1-3-0 mark in PL Championship games.
This also marks the second-straight season and the third time in four years that Navy has qualified for the Patriot League Tournament.
Tuesday was Navy’s second-straight appearance in the league semifinals and its 12th semifinal appearance overall.
Navy has a 7-7-5 record in league tournament games … The Mids are 3-2-0 when playing in true home games in the league tournament.
After a goal from sophomore Charlie Kriel helped the Mids grab a 1-0 shutout at No. 4 Lehigh in the 2021 quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Navy fell in the league semifinals to No. 2 American, 4-2, despite a goal and assist from Jackson.
Navy vs. American in the Postseason
The Mids and Eagles will meet for the third time in a postseason setting on Saturday, and it will be the second time in two seasons that the two sides face each other in the Patriot League Tournament.
The first postseason meeting between Navy and American was the 2011 PL semifinal round, as the top-seeded Eagles advanced past the No. 4 seed Mids on penalty kicks, 4-3, after the two sides played to a scoreless draw over 110 minutes.
In last year’s semifinal match, the fifth-seeded Mids got tallies from Jackson and Jacob Williams. Still, the two-seed Eagles had four different goal scorers en route to a 4-2 victory that earned them a championship showdown with Loyola.
Navy-American Series History
The all-time series between the schools is 15-12-9 in favor of the Eagles, with American having a 4-2-2 edge since 2016.
The Mids hold an 8-4-4 record against American at home.
The two sides closed out the spring 2021 season with a 1-1 tie while the fall 2021 season saw Navy suffer a 3-1 loss to American in the regular season finale.
Navy and American also faced off in the semifinal round of last season’s Patriot League Tournament, as Jackson scored on a penalty kick and assisted on a Jacob Williams tally, but the Mids fell 4-2 against the Eagles.
This year’s regular-season meeting was the first between the teams in Annapolis since 2018, as the Navy used a Jackson penalty-kick goal to defeat American, 1-0, on November 2, picking up the Mids’ first win over the Eagles since 2019.
Last week’s win also clinched the Mids a spot in the league tournament, earning them the No. 4 seed and the right to host No. 5 Lafayette at home last Saturday.
With an average of 9.11 fouls per game, Navy is committing the seventh-fewest fouls in the nation, trailing only American (fifth nationally – 8.84) for the Patriot League low.
The Mids also have the second-fewest amount of yellow cards in the NCAA this season at 17, with only Missouri State having less than Navy at seven yellow cards.
Navy Goalkeeping Standing Strong
Sophomore goalkeeper Pierce Holbrook has been a key part of the Midshipmen’s success this season, as the netminder ranks 23th nationally and second in the conference at a .800 save percentage. In contrast, his 60 saves to lead the Patriot League.
Additionally, Holbrook’s 1550 minutes played is the 22nd-most in the NCAA, and his seven shutouts rank 17th nationally.
Holbrook (17 starts) and senior goalie Thomas Pearson (two starts) have combined to post a .790 team save percentage that sits 21st in the NCAA, while the Navy defense has held opponents to 0.884 goals against average, which ranks 27th in the country.
The Midshipmen’s nine draws this season are a program record, eclipsing the previous program high of five (2014, 2011, 1989).
Navy’s five ties in Patriot League regular-season play are also a program record.
The nine draws are tied for the national lead this season with Fordham (3-4-9).
The current Navy senior class has helped the Mids post a 34-16-12 overall record during their four years with the program.
Since ending the 2018 season on a four-game winning streak, Navy is 20-9-7 in Patriot League regular-season games.
Navy is 8-0-2 over the past three seasons when Kallie records a goal, 8-2-3 when Jackson scores, and 3-0-2 in games where junior midfielder Aoyama registers a tally.
Last Time Out
After a scoreless 110 minutes of play resulted in a 0-0 draw, Tuesday night’s Patriot League Semifinal at Nickerson Field between fourth-seeded Navy and second-seeded Boston University came down to a penalty kick shootout, as the Midshipmen advanced to the league championship by beating the Terriers 9-8 in PKs.
A 14th-minute shot from Gianluca Arlotti was blocked out of bounds by junior midfielder Cristian Coelho, leading to one of Boston’s eight first-half corner kicks.
Navy’s chance came at 24′ when Jackson kicked a liner over the cage, while Aoyama’s 26th-minute shot went high outside the left corner of the goal box.
Colin Innes had his shot slice past the left post in the 30th minute, while Holbrook stopped another Innes shot at 34′.
The Mids put together back-to-back shots on goal in the 38th minute, but both Aoyama’s initial shot and sophomore defender Charlie Kriel’s rebound attempt were denied by Francesco Montali.
Brian Hernandez bicycle-kicked a shot wide left in the 53rd minute, while Aoyama at 60′ sent his shot was off the mark after the ball from 23 yards out.
In the first half of overtime, Quinn Matulis shot a ball high off the Terriers’ 13th corner kick of the night at 94′, while the second overtime saw Holbrook stonewall Arlotti at 104′.
In the shootout, Jackson buried the first attempt. At the same time, Matulis hit the left post and out to open, as the next two rounds saw both sides score before Montali stopped sophomore Connor Walcott and BU’s Kevin Torres found the net in the fourth round, as the fifth through ninth rounds resulted in scores for each team.
Coming down to the 10th round, freshman defender Jalen Grant found the right side to beat Montali and Andrew Rent put his shot over the crossbar to send Navy onto the finals.
Scouting the Eagles
After ending the regular season with three straight one-goal losses that followed a seven-game unbeaten streak, sixth-seeded American has come out resurgent in the Patriot League Tournament.
The Eagles opened the postseason with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory at third-seeded Colgate, as Cooper Nunn, Evan Schweickert, and Troy Elgersma all recorded goals to knock off the Raiders.
After taking an early lead against top-seeded Army on Elgersma’s 43rd-minute goal, American saw the Black Knights even the score in the second half. Still, the Eagles responded with two goals in the second overtime frame courtesy of Mattias Cooper and Leo Palomo to upset Army in the semifinals.
Schweickert’s goal on Saturday moved him into a tie for the team lead with Robbie Matei at four goals, while Matei’s 32 shots pace the team.
While three different goalkeepers have seen action for AU, Dominic Dominguez leads the trio with 26 saves, while Matthew Tibbetts paces the team with eight starts and four wins in net.
Parking / Shuttle / Ticket Information
All soccer contests at Glenn Warner will be free of charge, as Fans 18 and over need a government-issued photo ID. Fans are reminded that the general public does not have access to drive their vehicles on to the U.S. Naval Academy. Fans may park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for a fee and take a shuttle that will run every 10 minutes starting one hour before the game and will continue running until one hour after the game is completed. Enter the Stadium’s Gate 5 off Taylor Ave. to park. Pedestrians may also walk through the Naval Academy’s Gate 1 or Gate 8. Dogs are not permitted inside the Glenn Warner Soccer Complex.