Reeling from back-to-back Capital Athletic Conference losses to No. 2 Salisbury and No. 14 Mary Washington, St. Mary’s has reason to be optimistic.
The reigning CAC tournament champion Seahawks (5-7 overall and 1-2 in the league) played with their full arsenal of offensive players as sophomore attackman Conor Jordan, freshman attackman Patrick Regan, junior midfielder Nate Babcock (Severn) and sophomore midfielder Austin Toland (St. Paul’s) returned from a variety of injuries.
Despite losing, 11-6, to the Sea Gulls on Saturday, St. Mary’s coach Chris Hasbrouck said he was hopeful about what he saw from the offense.
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“The Salisbury game was the first game probably since [a 13-11 loss March 15 to] Montclair [State] that we’ve probably had all of our offensive personnel healthy and playing at the same time,” he said Monday morning. “So it was great to have those kids back on the field. We did some good things. We felt we played pretty well at times, and this is a game that going into the home stretch over the next four games, we have something to build on.”
Hasbrouck conceded that it will take some time for the players returning from injury to regain their legs and develop a chemistry with the players who have participated all season. The players’ absence was most notable on man-up offense, where the unit has converted just 26.1 percent (6-of-23) of its extra-man opportunities in the team’s last seven contests.
“We were cruising along at about 48 percent, which is far and away our highest percentage since I’ve been here,” Hasbrouck said. “You move other guys in there during practice, but it’s not the same group, and they don’t get the reps during the games as well. Hopefully, with everybody back, we’re hoping that we have the right guys and shooters and feeders. I just don’t want them to press. I think that’s what we did a little bit of at Salisbury. We had the ball in the sticks of the guys we wanted, but I just think we pressed at times. Instead of getting our hands free and just ripping the ball, I think we were trying to just place or make the perfect shot. Against a team as good as Salisbury, you’ve got to play free and loose.”
The Seahawks need the offense to find its form quickly as they currently occupy the sixth and final spot in the conference tournament and still have league games against Christopher Newport (9-2, 3-1), No. 19 York (11-3, 3-1) and Frostburg State (10-3, 3-2).
“We’ve regrouped and we have four to go,” Hasbrouck said. “So we’re looking at it that we have our fate in our own hands. We need to win a few more games and get into the conference tournament. That’s always been the goal, to play well enough to get there. And we proved last year that once you get into that tournament, great things can happen.”