Mission I: Avoid 3-10.
Mission II: Destroy Ruskie lacrosse.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
February 15: Georgetown; March 1: Holy Cross; March 11: @Towson; March 22: Colgate; April 12: @Army
Navy's three wins last season -- against VMI, Detroit, and Lafayette -- went a combined 9-32; the Midshipmen's 10 defeats last year came against teams that went a combined 90-63. This wasn't an exceptionally strong schedule that Navy played in 2013 -- it ranked just 33rd in Pythagorean win expectation -- and yet the Mids meandered through a painful campaign that mercifully ended with a 4-15 loss to Johns Hopkins in late April. All of that looks like an Edvard Munch composition, but the nitty-gritty is even uglier: Against teams with a record within two games of .500, Navy's average margin of defeat was by four goals. Four! (Now, three of those games featured results of two goals or less (against Fairfield, Towson, and Holy Cross, but Colgate and Army put the boom on the Mids).) Accordingly, where Navy lost its way last season was against the lunch-pail-and-hard-hat average; if the Midshipmen are able to raise their competitive level in those presumed games in 2014, Navy's fortunes could dramatically change. It's these five games -- placed throughout the Mids' slate -- that are ultimately Navy's defining moments; what the Midshipmen do against Maryland, Hopkins, Loyola, and Bucknell matters less to Navy's momentum than what these five games potentially provide. There's nothing sexy about swinging smashing hammers against members of the nation's meaty middle, but the Mids' performances in those contests ultimately drive the team's ceiling.
The Path to TBD
February 22: @Bucknell; March 1: Holy Cross; March 7: Lafayette; March 15: @Lehigh; March 22: Colgate; March 29: @Boston University; April 5: Loyola; April 12: @Army
The Patriot League expanded its postseason for 2014, inviting six of the conference's nine programs to sites to be determined to figure out which program will earn the league's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament. With the depth of the conference this season, there's no guarantee that the Midshipmen are assured of at least participation in the league tournament quarterfinal round. Lafayette and Boston University probably need Earth to spin sideways to get a taste of postseason lacrosse, but that leaves -- including the Midshipmen -- seven teams fighting for six spots. Luckily for the Mids, the team's regular season schedule sets up fairly well to avoid potential losing streaks: The Patriot League agenda starts with Bucknell, but then Navy moves to manageable games against Holy Cross and Lafayette; after that stretch, it's a tough date against the Mountain Hawks but manageable games against the Raiders and Terriers immediately follow; and then the league portion of the Mids' slate ends with a tough home date against the Greyhounds followed by The Most Important Game Played in the History of HistoryTM. So, you can see it, right? Navy has a reach game followed by dates against less superior opponents. This sets up well for the Midshipmen if they can take care of business.