The Mount St. Mary’s team that pulled off impressive victories over Bucknell and Delaware in February seems like a distant memory now. That’s because the Mountaineers have dropped their last four contests, including opening play in the Northeast Conference with back-to-back losses to Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac.
The team’s numbers have precipitously declined since diving into the conference schedule. The offense is averaging more than three goals fewer (6.5 goals from 10.7), the defense is just as porous (13 goals from 13.3), and players on both sides are coughing up the ball (17.0 turnovers from 12.3).
Numbers aside, coach Tom Gravante is at a loss for words when asked to explain how Mount St. Mary’s is 0-2 in the Northeast Conference after knocking off Bucknell and Delaware.
“My staff and I are still trying to figure that out,” he said Friday afternoon. “I think we might have found a couple of answers. We’ve implemented a few new things in practice this week, but we are very perplexed. We’ve beaten some very, very good teams early on and then kind of fizzled when it was most important. We’d certainly like it to go the other way. We’re going to try to get these kids to rebound and respond.”
The Mountaineers (4-8 overall and 0-2 in the league) trail the Pioneers and Bryant, both of which lead the conference with identical 2-0 records – and the Bobcats and Robert Morris are 1-1.
Mount St. Mary’s can get back into contention with a victory over Robert Morris this Sunday, and Gravante said the pressure is on.
“This is it,” he said. “We’re playing playoff games from here on out. We’re four quarters away from turning our playoff run into playing for pride. The kids know that. They knew it as soon as we dropped that game up in Connecticut [12-8 to Quinnipiac last Saturday]. With six teams, at best you go 2-3 and if you were head-to-head with the other team that was 2-3, you get in. … In this case, it’s a must-win. It’s up to our kids to respond and win out and go 3-2. I think we’re a shoo-in at 3-2 or we hope to go 2-3 and hope that Robert Morris drops another game.”