The sweat and nerves that accompanied St. Mary’s journey to the NCAA tournament turned into a leisurely jaunt after the team had upset reigning national champion Salisbury, 13-11, in Sunday’s final of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament and earned the automatic qualifier.
It was a relaxing moment for a Seahawks program that had never advanced to the NCAA tournament until Sunday.
“Well, it definitely took a little pressure off,” coach Chris Hasbrouck said with a chuckle Monday afternoon. “… For the guys, it’s been a lot of hard work over four years to get to this point. We had a couple good wins, and I know there were a lot of people talking about the potential for a Pool C [at-large] bid, but that’s not the route. The Pool C teams are very thankful they’re in, but we certainly didn’t want to leave that to chance because I thought we had a good strength of schedule and we had a couple good wins, but there were no guarantees without the AQ.”
St. Mary’s (12-6) outplayed the Sea Gulls in Sunday’s title game, finishing with more ground balls (36-30), more faceoff wins (14-12) and more extra-man goals (4-of-5 to 0-of-5). Hasbrouck said that may have been the best performance he had witnessed from the offense, defense and special teams.
“Even for a lot of teams, it’s tough to hit on all three of those things, and I thought we did that yesterday,” he said. “We had a great week of preparation, and I thought we had a great game plan. All credit to the kids who played because they executed the game plan in those three areas, and that was huge. We went down three and there was no panic, and I think part of that is the schedule we’ve played. We’ve been in that environment before.”
The Seahawks will open the first round by visiting Lynchburg (12-5), which lost to Washington and Lee in the semifinals of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament, on Wednesday at 7 p.m.