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Navy scored 40 unanswered second half points to put away Notre Dame 57-3 in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. After a sloppy first half that saw points go begging, the Midshipmen exploded for a six try second half.
The Military Academy got on the board first through hooker Dan McCaffrey. Jacob Griffin and Mike Samaniego added tries later in the half to go up 17-0. The Fighting Irish notched a penalty right before halftime to make it 17-3 going into the break.
The Midshipmen missed on a number of opportunities in the first half and with a high penalty count, Navy made it hard on themselves. After a tough first stanza, though, the floodgates opened in the second half. Griffin and McCaffrey both tallied their second while Kevin Kirshmer, Connor McNerney and Zach Coffman all found pay dirt as well.
“We talked at halftime about just getting back to fundamentals. We tried to do a little too much. Be a little too slick with the ball in our hands,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. “It was a slippery wet service and it just wasn’t going to happen that way. We just dialed it back a bit, stayed with fundamentals and patience paid off.”
While Navy was explosive on offense, it was extremely impressive on defense. For Flanagan, that is the key to advancing in the Varsity Cup.
“The ability to defend here is way more important than the ability to score. We have got to keep people out of the goal line and I think we did a pretty good job today sort of putting a cap on Notre Dame,” Flanagan said.
Navy has advanced to the semi finals of the Varsity Cup in each of the last three seasons. For the Midshipmen, today was a good rebound from a loss to Army and a solid hit out before a date with Arkansas State next weekend.
“It went about as we expected. We are a pretty solid team. We are still feeling the effects of a loss to Army a little bit and needed to get into the contact.”