The 2013 campaign in which St. Mary’s captured the Capital Athletic Conference tournament to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history was kickstarted by a season-opening 13-12 upset of Roanoke.
So what are the Seahawks – ranked 18th in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll – doing for an encore? Trying to repeat history with a visit of the No. 8 Maroons on Tuesday.
But before he can entertain visions of another upset dancing in his head, St. Mary’s coach Chris Hasbrouck acknowledged that both teams are much different versions of last year’s squads.
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“It’s a new year,” he pointed out Monday. “Roanoke is a new team as are we. I think last year, we just started making that climb up that national ladder and this year, we want to continue that. So that’s what we’re using as our motivation. It might have been looked at it that we upset them last year. This year, it’s two very good teams that both went to the tournament. It’s the CAC champion against the ODAC [Old Dominion Athletic Conference] champion. That’s how we’re looking at it. We’ve earned the right to be in that conversation, and now we just have to let our play prove that we have the right to belong there.”
By the same token, the Maroons probably have not forgotten about that setback, and Hasbrouck said he fully anticipates that coach Bill Pilat will have used the memory of that loss as motivation for the current players and coaches.
“I’m sure that stung a little bit,” Hasbrouck said. “I think they’re feeling they might have had opportunities in that game. Again, I think we’re to the point where nobody is taking us lightly anymore. We’ve won some big games, we’ve been in a lot of big games. But Coach Pilat has been around for a while and I’m sure that he’s using that to say, ‘Hey, fellas, they beat us last year at their place. Let’s make sure we take care of business at our place.’”
A win is every coach’s primary objective, but Hasbrouck said he is prepared to see plenty of mistakes unfold on the field.
“I’m not expecting us to play our best game,” he reasoned. “If we play our best game of the year tomorrow, we’re in trouble. We want to work on the little things – limiting our turnovers and we’ve really worked hard in the preseason on our shooting. We want to make sure that our shooting percentage is high. Defensively, we’re looking forward to the matchups. It’s really a feeling-out process in the first couple games. We had two great scrimmages, but we were still looking for those right combinations. So we know the first third of our season is for Pool C. The out-of-conference games are huge, and that’s for everybody. It’s not just St. Mary’s. It’s everybody that plays Division III lacrosse. The first third of the season is huge, and … you have to be ready to answer the bell. I believe we are. We’re healthy, we’re excited, it’s a great environment down there. There’s a lot of tradition. We’re looking forward to going down there.”