Tom Gravante was understandably concerned about how Mount St. Mary’s would play after absorbing a humiliating 23-6 loss to No. 3 Maryland in the season opener for both teams a week ago.
Thankfully, the head coach was delighted with what he witnessed during the Mountaineers’ 12-11 upset of then-No. 18 Bucknell on Sunday. That victory helped assuage some of the aftertaste lingering from the setback to the Terps.
“They responded in practice, they rebounded,” Gravante said Tuesday morning. “I told you after the Maryland game that we needed to do some things better and that I felt that down there in College Park in that locker room, we had a good team. But if that team doesn’t perform, it’s going to be lights out, and that’s really the same for any team. Coaches want their kids to perform. … It was kind of a watch-and-wait situation to see how these guys would respond. We did our best in practice as coaches to make sure they had a short memory and to keep things upbeat with the correct pace and tempo. I’m happy to say it worked out.”
Mount St. Mary’s experienced the elation of knocking off a favorite last season, upending Delaware, 12-10, in last year’s opening contest. But that squad dropped four of its next five games en route to a 6-9 record, and Gravante is leery about the players suffering a letdown prior to Saturday’s contest against those same Blue Hens, who have lost back-to-back 9-8 decisions to Bucknell and No. 1 Loyola.
“Now it’s a matter of validating that ticket,” Gravante said. “That Bucknell game doesn’t mean anything unless they play well on Saturday against Delaware. And it’s going to be a battle. This is a good Delaware team that has lost its last two games – each by a goal. They had the No. 1 team in the country on the ropes this weekend. … Sure, those kids aren’t going to forget and that coaching staff is going to forget what happened. So we’re kind of in the same position. … The kids have a great opportunity to run it back.”