Good vibes are becoming more difficult to find around Mount St. Mary’s.
At 0-5, the team is off to its worst start since 1994 when that squad opened the season with six consecutive losses. That was the last year under coach A.J. Russo, who was replaced by current coach Tom Gravante.
The Mountaineers have been outscored 64-19 so far, but Gravante said the players have tried to remain upbeat about the rest of the year.
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“I think their confidence might be a little bit shaken, but we’re in this together as a team,” he said Thursday morning. “We’re really staying on them. We’re tough on them. We’re not going to coddle these young guys. They’ve got to grow up, but we also let them know that we’ve got their backs. We may be hard on them, but the bottom line is, we’ve got their backs. So practices have been good. We’re still making mistakes that are helping the other team on the stat sheets, but we’re going to continue work through that with these players.”
Film sessions have been tough as the coaches have a lot of errors and bad plays to sift through, but Gravante said the staff has tried to be positive with the players.
“You let the kids know that for every negative, there’s two or three positives,” he said. “Even if it’s a bad play and the effort was there, it’s important to let them know, ‘Hey, great effort. I’m proud of you.’ Especially with a young team like this.”
Mount St. Mary’s will have a chance to snap the winless drought when the team meets former Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rival Manhattan on Sunday in Riverdale, N.Y. Both programs are 0-5 and desperate for a victory, but Gravante said the players can’t afford to get wrapped up into reading too much into the Jaspers’ winless record.
“It’s the battle of the 0-5s and they’re home. So I’m going to spot them two goals already,” Gravante quipped. “We don’t want our kids to think that they’re better than they are. Even though the schedules are different and we’ve played a better overall schedule, it doesn’t matter. The steps that we’ve made against some other teams, if we don’t make them against Manhattan, then that team will benefit. Really, we need to clean up some fundamental mistakes of simply and catching and throwing before we can begin focusing on Sunday. It’s going to be a battle mentally because you have two teams that are going to be hungry and one of them has a little bit of an edge in my opinion because they’re playing at home.”