WEST POINT, N.Y. - Billy Looney exploded for four goals and Nick Mirabito added a hat trick as No. 5 Navy survived a second half surge by No. 16 Army for an 11-10 victory before 7,288 sun-splashed fans at venerable Michie Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Army (6-5, 3-2 Patriot League) scored eight second half goals, including six in the third quarter, but Navy (9-2, 5-1 PL) held the Black Knights at bay in the final frame, thwarting two opportunities in the final 36 seconds of the contest. John Walker shot wide, while being knocked to the ground in front of the crease, and Matt Scheel sailed a shot from about five yards out wide with under 10 ticks remaining.
Army's loss keeps Colgate's hopes of hosting the tournament alive. The Raiders would have to win each of their remaining league contests, against Lafayette and Bucknell, to tie Navy, who has completed its league slate, for first place. Colgate's 6-3 win over the Mids earlier this year would give hosting rights to the Raiders.
Scheel scored a career-high four goals in the loss, and Mike Obringer tallied six points for the third time this season. Walker finished with four points. The announced crowd of 7,288 was the largest regular-season attendance figure to witness a lacrosse match at Michie Stadium.
Matt Russell made 11 saves in the cage for the Midshipmen, including many point-blank opportunities in the first half. Army goalie Adam Fullerton struggled all day, stopping just three shots for the home team. The Black Knights' 10 goals marked the first time all year that an opponent reached double figures on Russell and Navy. Their six-goal third quarter was also a season-high allowed by the Mids.
Navy jumped out to a 4-0 lead, on the strength of two goals 10 seconds apart just three minutes into the contest, and took a 5-2 advantage into the locker room thanks in large part to winning 7 of 9 faceoffs and holding a 17-11 advantage on ground balls.
However, Army climbed back into the contest with a man up goal by Matt Scheel 33 seconds into the second half. Obringer then drew the Black Knights to within one exactly one minute later after Army gained possession on another Navy penalty.
Looney and Mirabito tallied back-to-back, killing Army's momentum and restoring the visitor's three-goal lead, 7-4. The Black Knights climbed to within one once again with consecutive goals. However, Navy ripped two of their own past Fullerton, who didn't make a save in the third quarter, to go back up 9-6.
That is when Army took advantage of some Navy turnovers and scored three straight times to earn the only tie of the game, 9-9, with 13:26 to go in the tilt.
Looney and Tommy Wallin scored five minutes apart in the fourth quarter as the Midshipmen jumped back out in front 11-9. Scheel cut that lead in half with a low shot to the far corner with four minutes left. However, Army never could get the equalizer.
Both Walker and Scheel had opportunities that came directly off Navy turnovers. Twice in the final 1:08, the Mids gained possession of the ball, but could not clear the defensive zone. Army scooped up the loose ball each time and came away with a scoring opportunity.
Army returns to action next Friday night when it hosts Holy Cross in a Patriot League contest at 7:30 p.m. at Michie Stadium.