Army was looking to find it's footing after a series of tough losses to open the Patriot League season, but their opponents in Army-Navy Cup VIII came in with one of the best defenses in the country. Both squads came out swinging in a thrilling 1-1 draw under the bright lights of Talen Energy Stadium Friday evening.
After dropping four straight results, Army got back on track with a gritty 0-0 draw against Lehigh last time out. Meanwhile, Navy was suffocating opposing attacks and hadn't given up a goal in five consecutive matches. So when Diego Manrique opened the scoring for the Naval Academy in the 24th minute -- in front of a raucous 8,000+ crowd -- Army knew they needed to push hard to leave with points.
Russell Payne rallied his men and they sent a barrage of shots at Navy's net. Tim O'Donohue's defense, as it has all season, held firm. But in the 51st minute, Sam Epitime was brought down in the Navy box and Keenan O'Shea strode forward to drive home the ensuing penalty kick. That evened things at one goal apiece, and through two overtimes that's how the scoreline remained.
The result will give Army a huge boost of confidence as they roll into the back half of their season, and it leaves Navy unbeaten in their last sixteen matches.