Late in the fourth quarter of Mount St. Mary’s' eventual 10-4 loss to Georgetown on Wednesday, goalkeeper Chris Klaiber was trying to initiate a clear, but was under heavy duress by a Hoyas player.
Junior defenseman Kyle O’Brien took it upon himself to take out the player, which drew a one-minute penalty for slashing but also earned Klaiber’s thanks.
One might say that Klaiber warranted some assistance after the senior made a game-high 20 saves for the Mountaineers (0-2). Thirteen of those stops occurred in the first half.
The performance stood in sharp contrast to his last outing when he allowed eight goals and made just seven saves in the team’s 16-3 setback to No. 11 Maryland last Saturday.
Klaiber, however, said that he did not feel any different against Georgetown (1-0) than he did against the Terps.
“Just a different day,” he said. “We came together after the [Maryland] game and we fought really hard. We fought for each other a little more. It just worked out a little better. Goalie is not really a position where you can go out and force things. You’ve got to wait for them to come to you to make a play. I can get as riled up as I want before the game, but I have to wait for them to come to me.”
Klaiber almost did not get to play Wednesday as coach Tom Gravante seriously considered starting sophomore Frankie McCarthy, who replaced Klaiber in the second quarter against the Terps. But Gravante stuck with Klaiber, who validated his coach’s decision.
“It comes down to making a stand,” Gravante said. “If you want the spot, you’ve got to rise to the challenge. I know that they’re both hungry. Chris wants to play and so does Frankie. Right now, after today, Chris has separated himself as the starter. But Frankie has to be on standby and ready to go in case he flops. It’s always about making your time count.
"No matter when the time is, if you get an opportunity, you’ve got to make that time count. So we’re going to continue to work with both of these young men in terms of getting them prepared to play. Right now, we’re going to stay with Chris and we’ll see how it goes over the next 10 days. If one gets to be the frontrunner before Delaware [on Feb. 22], we’ll play him. Right now, I think he’s got a little bit of an edge after today’s performance. I just hope he can maintain that.”
Klaiber said he doesn’t fret over playing time or sharing the role with others.
“I just wait for Coach to tell me what’s going to happen,” he said. “If it is [me], I just go out and play like I do every game. I go out and play as hard as I can.”
Klaiber will likely have to string together solid showings for the Mountaineers to have a chance to win, but for at least one game, he drew praise from his coach and teammates like O’Brien.
“He really stood on his head,” marveled O’Brien, a St. Mary’s graduate.
* With both teams going scoreless through almost the first three minutes of the contest, Mount St. Mary’s had a prime opportunity to take its first lead of the season when Hoyas junior midfielder Charles McCormick was flagged for slashing, giving the Mountaineers a one-minute, man-up chance.
But the offense failed to cash in, and Georgetown scored later in the first quarter to take a lead it would never relinquish. Gravante could only wonder what might have been if Mount St. Mary’s had gotten on the scoreboard first.
“We had a couple of shots where we rang some pipes and had open shots around the cage and blew them by,” he said. “I think it could have [been pivotal], putting a team back on their heels a little bit when they don’t expect to be down. But it’s a game of bunches. Both teams can score in bunches and I think Georgetown did that with five in the second quarter. We were 3-2 with them and then boom, boom, boom. We had five turnovers in the second quarter with some failed clears and there you go.”
* The Mountaineers will now have 10 days between Wednesday and their next game at Delaware on Feb. 22. Many players would rather dive into games than practices, but Gravante said the layoff should prove beneficial.
“We have some kids that are injured as well,” he said. “So it’s going to give them a little more time to heal themselves and get back into the battle with us. We’ll rest them tomorrow and potentially on Friday if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
"We’re going to practice Saturday and Sunday if we can. But absolutely, the rest will do them well. We still want them to stay in the weight room and run a little bit on the treadmill. But rest will be good for them and hopefully, we will grow as a team before we face Delaware.”
* The Hoyas’ win was only their second in their last five season openers. Now they have to turn around and prepare to face Navy (1-0) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday at 12 p.m.
It’s not an ideal situation, according to Georgetown coach Kevin Warne.
“Maybe it’s more difficult for the coaches. I know the kids just want to play games,” he said. “But just getting used to Navy and their personnel and what they like to do schematically, on a short week you have to be smart about what you do to your guys. You don’t want to confuse them, but make sure that they recognize enough to execute.”