Prior to the Navy men’s soccer team’s first-round game in the NCAA tournament against Virginia Commonwealth University, the Midshipmen talked about making sure that their stay in the postseason wasn’t a short one.
Navy’s 3-0 rout of VCU on Thursday night was the program’s first win the NCAA tournament since Nov. 23, 1971, when that squad defeated South Florida, 3-1. The team will face No. 14 seed Wake Forest (9-5-5) in the second round Sunday at 5 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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Coach Dave Brandt, who had implored the players not to settle for just simply being invited to the tournament after winning the Patriot League title, was pleased with what he saw unfold in Richmond.
“To beat a very good VCU team, yeah, that’s a great start and the type of thing that we were talking about,” he said Friday afternoon. “That’s what we wanted to do.”
The Midshipmen (16-3-2) advanced courtesy of a pair of goals from junior midfielder Geoff Fries and one from senior midfielder Martin Sanchez. Each player had scored just one goal in the regular season (although Sanchez did lead the team with 10 assists).
“I would say that we’ve got lots of guys who can score,” Brandt said. “Geoff and Martin, it doesn’t surprise me. I realize that it was Martin’s second goal and Geoff’s second and third, but at the same time, things like that for us can happen at any time. Those goals can come at any time from those guys and others.”
Navy carries the country’s longest active winning streak at 15 games into Sunday. The Demon Deacons have been heading in the opposite direction, going just 1-2-1 in their past four games.
But Brandt pointed out that the Midshipmen will play their fourth game in 10 days, while Wake Forest will play its first game since a 1-0 loss to Virginia on Nov. 12 in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
“I think our rhythm ought to be good,” Brandt said. “We’ve been playing, but at the same time, I’m worried about our legs and our capacity to physically play the way we need to play. It’s hard to judge. It’s been almost two weeks since they’ve played. They’ve clearly had a chance to regroup. How that goes for them, I don’t know. We’ll see.”