Last Sunday’s 12-11 loss to Robert Morris saddled Mount St. Mary’s with a winless record in the Northeast Conference and a spring without a berth in the league tournament.
The Mountaineers (4-9 overall and 0-3 in the conference) could end the regular season with victories over Bryant (5-8, 3-0) this Saturday and Wagner (1-10, 0-3) on April 27, but they would be unable to vault over the Colonials (6-5, 2-1), Quinnipiac (5-6, 2-1) and Sacred Heart (2-9, 2-1) as all three of those teams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Mount St. Mary’s.
It’s a disappointing fate for a team that had captured the Northeast Conference tournament crown in 2011, defeated Bucknell, Georgetown and Delaware earlier in the season, and garnered some national attention as a potential upstart.
“I think the kids have faced the reality,” coach Tom Gravante said Friday morning. “It’s a big disappointment of course, and they’re going to have to go on and learn from this, especially the 22 young men that are moving on. Hopefully, that experience will help them grow stronger in whatever they decide to do.”
Despite being frozen out of the postseason, the Mountaineers can play a role in the seeding of the conference tournament and finish the season on a high note. Gravante said he does not believe that the players will limp away quietly.
“Win or lose, we battle,” he said. “If Bryant comes in here and beats us, they have to beat us. We don’t want to roll over for them. We’ve made sure that our captains got everybody up to speed in practice and continue to perform at 100 percent. We’ve got a very young team under these 22 seniors who are under a watchful eye. How they respond and lead this team is going to matter with the underclassmen in terms of how they grow as stronger student-athletes. So it’s very important. When your seniors graduate and step up, they want to make sure that they’ve done the job in helping the underclassmen grow and keep on the tradition. I think we’ve started a pretty good tradition here of being committed on and off the field, battling teams, and hopefully working to make that better and turn things around for next year. If they throw in the towel, then they’re not providing hope for the underclassmen.”
Mount St. Mary’s will not go into Saturday’s home contests against the Bulldogs with its full complement of players. Fifth-year senior midfielder Eric Ososki will not play, which means that senior attackman Andrew Scalley will make his second straight start in the midfield.
Starting sophomore attackman Mark Hojnoski broke his finger during practice Thursday, and sophomore Christian Durham will make his first career start. And junior defenseman Shane Pierce will not play due to knee inflammation related to a slight tear in his meniscus.
Gravante said he and the coaching staff will get a chance to see what players who do not usually get an opportunity to play can do.
“We’re not sitting seniors just to play underclassmen,” he said. “We’ve got some young men that have been hurt over the last week, and they’re not going to be in a position to play. It gives the younger guys an opportunity to get in, get some minutes, and that’s a good thing. We want to see what some of these younger guys bring to the table.”