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Who Is This Navy Team in the D1A Final?

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Who Is This Navy Team in the D1A Final?

Three wins over Army are part of a historic Navy season. David Hughes photo.

At the early part of the 2022-2023 season you kind of had a feeling Navy would be here in the D1A final.

The season had a slow buildup because the Midshipmen were heavily favored in their early games. But they started to make it happen from there. An 18-3 win over Mary Washington was an example of how they can pull out an offensively-challenged result. They battled hard with Penn State and Notre Dame College.

Navy vs Cal D1A Final Saturday 7:30PM ET Live on The Rugby Network

What we at GRR saw at the NDC game was a team that had more to give, but were pushed, hard. And they won. Eventually they won relatively well (36-21). And what fans saw there was a team that would fight for it.

After that they controlled their destiny. Virginia Tech, Kutztown, Army, St. Bonaventure were all defeated, and all were done in a methodical, clinical way.

The Navy of the fall of 2022 played intense defense, didn't give up the line cheaply, took points, and could be versatile.


So would they bridge it to 2023? Army did it by focusing on games before the playoffs—tough games that challenged them. In a way that plan was more formalized perhaps than Army's, the Navy plan was pretty clear.

Western Ontario, which promised to be difficult but not a game that would grind them down early. A week later Cal. A week after that, Penn State. Six days later it was Army.

Four very tough, national-level teams. The victories, two by over 30 and two by a total of 13, were almost immaterial other than to build confidence. The games, the preparation was what was important.

Ultimately what Navy found was they are a team that defends brilliantly, isn't too proud to take a shot at the posts, and can score down low by the tryline. They have the ability to break away long-range tries but really we won't see a lot of that. They're cool with that. What we will see is a team that gets the job done.

Two weeks ago at Lindenwood, Navy didn't play their best. Their vaunted maul worked once, but was too splintered, too vulnerable to a tough Lindenwood defense. The gravitas of the moment perhaps affected their execution. And somehow they found a way. Their cover defense and ability to disrupt was enough. In this coming final, then, will we see the Navy team that methodically punched through tries against Cal in March? Or will we see Cal find an answer?

Certainly we will see a Navy team that doesn't slack off defensively. We saw that back in September, and it hasn't changed since.