Midshipmen's mission this simple: Beat Army

March 31, 1995|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Contributing Writer Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Forget about Navy's being on the bubble for the postseason. Don't even mention that the Midshipmen play four ranked opponents over the next three weeks.

It's No. 12 Navy vs. Army tonight at 7:30 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Although the Midshipmen won't leap to the top of the polls with a win over the struggling Cadets, it's still Navy's biggest game of the season.

Longer hours of preparation. Harder hits in practice. More hustle for ground balls.

"When a kid comes to Navy, the first thing he learns is to say, 'Beat Army,' " first-year coach Richie Meade said. "The Army game is unique, and it doesn't have to do with rankings. The level of intensity has been very, very high in practice. It's difficult to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it firsthand."

Meade has experienced 10 years of this rivalry as an assistant with Navy (1983-88) and Army (1991-94). But Meade said there really isn't an advantage with his working the past four seasons under Army coach Jack Emmer.

"I'm familiar with the kids, but Coach Emmer is familiar with me," he said. "I wouldn't categorize an edge for either of us. It's still feels a bit unusual."

Aikens undergoes surgery

Loyola women's coach Diane Aikens underwent five hours of surgery to remove a brain tumor yesterday. She was awake and in intensive care, where she'll stay for the next few days, school officials said.

Biopsy results are expected as early as today or later this weekend.

Not dwelling on No. 1

Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman doesn't want to reflect on the No. 1 ranking in March, especially with tomorrow's opponent, North Carolina, beating its first Top 10 opponent Tuesday. The No. 11 Tar Heels, who topped No. 6 Duke by five goals, have won six straight over the Blue Jays.

"We have improved in several areas as the season builds, and that's important," Seaman said. "Being No. 1 is great, but I've told my team it's all meaningless unless you win in May. I'll trade wins now for wins in May. The only thing that matters is to be No. 1 at the end of May. We can't lose focus on that goal."

Virginia gets breather

No. 3 Virginia took a much needed break from its rigorous schedule. Three days after being shelled by nine goals at Johns Hopkins on Saturday, the Cavaliers hammered Radford, 32-1.

Virginia, which plays host to No. 2 Maryland tomorrow, broke a 23-year school record for goals scored and largest margin of victory.

"We didn't bring anything to the table against Hopkins," Virginia attackman Michael Watson said. "It definitely does help us mentally to play in between Hopkins and Maryland. Plus it's more fun to play games than practice."

Loyola looks at midfield

The key for No. 18 Towson State to stop its three-game losing streak is to contain the midfield of Loyola tomorrow. Through their first six games, the No. 7 Greyhounds have received 68 of their 96 goals from their midfield.

The only surprise from that unit is the slow start from senior midfielder Zach Thornton, who missed three games while playing soccer for the United States in the Pan American Games.

"I've been all over him this week," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "He hasn't picked up a lacrosse stick in four weeks, and it shows. I think in another week or so, he'll be ready. Michael Jordan got ready in five games, but I hope it doesn't take Zach five games. We don't have that long."

The Greyhounds, who lost to Brown on Saturday, haven't lost back-to-back games at home since 1985, going 53-8 at Curley Field over the past 10 seasons.

TONIGHT'S GAME

ARMY (1-3) at No. 12 NAVY (4-2)

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis

Time: 7:30

Outlook: Navy, which is 2-0 at home, has won two straight over Army and leads the series, 42-24-3. This game marks the Midshipmen's last game against an unranked opponent for the next three weeks. Charles Bertrand (12 goals, 8 assists) leads the Midshipmen, who have four other players with 10 ore more goals scored. Garrett Luebker has a .546 save percentage for Navy. Last year in Navy's 10-9 win at Army, Leubker made 26 saves, one stop shy of tying the Midshipmen record. The Cadets stopped a season-opening three-game losing streak with a 15-11 win over Bucknell on Saturday. Army, which is led by Dan Brostek (8, 2) and Rob Manning (7, 3), averages only nine goals per game.

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