Mount St. Mary's tinkering with faceoffs

After hovering over the 50 percent mark on faceoffs for much of the season, Mount St. Mary’s has fared worse against Northeast Conference opponents.

The team won just 10-of-24 draws against Quinnipiac, 11-of-30 against No. 20 Bryant and 13-of-33 against Robert Morris. The Mountaineers collected six more groundballs than the Bobcats did, but they finished with a -23 margin against the Bears and a -12 differential against the Colonials.

In Saturday’s 17-14 loss to Robert Morris, coach Tom Gravante resorted to unusual measures by moving starting attackmen like Andrew Scalley and Brett Schmidt and starting midfielder Bryant Schmidt to the wings on faceoffs.

“We moved up two of our short sticks because our long sticks are just having problems,” Gravante said Tuesday. “The other guys are just more physical. So we’ve had to put up some of our best athletes like [junior] Andrew Scalley and [senior] Brett Schmidt and middies like [senior] Bryant Schmidt. We went back to a little bit of old-school lacrosse because back in the time that I played, you didn’t have two long sticks up there. You had your best shorties, your best athletes. So we figured we could give [junior] Jon Marsalese some help that way. And it worked, but we were also tiring out our attackmen.”

Fatiguing those starters on faceoffs and possibly putting them at risk for injuries is a concern for the Mountaineers. Gravante said the team is also mulling the option of having freshman defenseman Kyle O’Brien rotate with Marsalese at faceoffs.

“We’re just teaching him to jam so that the faceoff kid can’t push it forward and fast-break us,” Gravante said. “If he pulls it behind and wins, fine. But we don’t want to give up any more fast-break goals. So having a pole out there at the faceoff X helps.”

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