There’s no nice way to put it for Mount St. Mary’s, which must defeat Sacred Heart this Saturday at home and Wagner next Saturday on the road to finish in fourth place in the Northeast Conference and qualify for the league tournament.
It’s a humbling scenario for the Mountaineers, who won the inaugural tournament championship last year, but it’s the situation created by Saturday’s 17-14 loss to Robert Morris, which dropped Mount St. Mary’s to 0-3 in the Northeast Conference.
Coach Tom Gravante said Tuesday morning that the players are aware of the must-win scenario facing them.
“They know that,” he said. “If they want to extend their season to the first week of May, then they need to handle the pressure and play well. As much as you would like for them not to read into things and know certain facts, they find out.”
By the same token, Gravante said the players knew that even if they did lose to the Colonials, they could still earn a berth in the conference tournament.
“I think they still knew that win or lose, we still had an opportunity to make the playoffs, and that’s our goal. Make the playoffs and settle it from there,” he said. “… If we win, we move closer to getting that fourth seed in the conference if we beat Wagner, too. If we lose and beat Wagner, then there’s a three-way tie with three teams at 1-4 and then it’s in the hands of the conference in terms of how they determine that. The bottom line is, the kids know. If they win, they’re in. So they’ve got to handle the pressure, play smarter. It’s Senior Day. So hopefully, that’s going to add to the excitement and hopefully some incentive to play well.”