West Point Director of Rugby Rich Pohlidal praised his players after they came back from a 31-26 deficit to score at the final whistle, and win 33-31 over Navy Saturday at Navy Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.
Army led 26-15 before three Navy tries put the Midshipmen ahead. This was a somewhat surprising turn of events given Navy’s 1-2 record, but at the same time, playing on their home field, in front of a huge crowd, against Army, Navy would have expected nothing less.
In the end, though, the undefeated Army squad did just enough, with Will Holder kicking the winning conversion from the sideline. That play capped off a thrilling matchup worth of the two teams.
“It was really a tribute to both academies when matches go to the final kick,” said Pohlidal. “I thought Navy put together the best game of the year, in my opinion; they left no quarter. Navy at home will never be easy day, never, only visiting Army teams can understand that ... and Army fans of course.”
Holder continues to make big plays for Army. The flyhalf’s goalkicking helped them win a close one over Kutztown, but the goalkicking is just part of what he brings to the team.
“We had some good efforts across the board,” said Pohlidal. “We had some things go against us and found it difficult to reorganize, thus the lead change. Will's effort all day was consistent. He is all class. The final kick sealing the win for us was the perfect ending for his day; it is something our team will never forget. I am sure Will won't either! But I can tell you he would point to the other 14 guys out there before he would credit himself, we are very proud of him.”
In the end the teams congratulated each other and went on their way. As Navy No. 8 Spencer Wilson had said before the game: “we’re brothers [ the two teams] but it will be really physical as well.”
"This was all you'd ever want from an Army-Navy game," added Navy head Coach Mike Flanagan. "In losing, I have to say it was just about the most exciting Army-Navy game I've ever seen. I am so proud of my young guys and how much they grew up in that game. This was incredible."
“It was great to see the sportsmanship and class from both teams,” said Podlidal. “Both wanted the win, but want it the right way. I was honored to be a part of that.”