Almost every coach insists that a new season brings a new team. When Tom Gravante says that about Mount St. Mary’s, it is not an exaggeration.
The Mountaineers graduated 22 players from last year’s roster. Seven were starters, including all three attackmen (Andrew Scalley, Brett Schmidt and Cody Lehrer), all three midfielders (Bryant Schmidt, Daniel Stranix and Eric Ososki) and one defenseman (John Anderson). They also bade farewell to their top faceoff specialist (Jon Marsalese), long-stick midfielder (Mark Burns) and short-stick defensive midfielder (Robert Owen).
“We’re a new team,” Gravante said. “We’re younger. We graduated 22 kids last year — 16 undergrad seniors and six grad kids. We had some great highs and some very bad lows unfortunately last year. So that’s just how it goes. It’s a clean slate because we’re young and we have to take a little different approach with these young men. … We’re a different team. There’s only one kid offensively that has legitimate experience, and that’s [junior midfielder] Clayton Wainer. Everybody else is going to make a name for himself, and that’s going to happen in practice.”
The current roster includes 12 freshmen and 13 sophomores, and some of those first-year players are poised to get considerable playing time, according to Gravante. He knows that youth is often accompanied by a lack of maturity and a propensity for errors, but Gravante said he won’t get volcanic over mistakes.
“It’s going to be important to be more patient,” Gravante acknowledged. “Our entire attack is brand new. There’s one kid, Christian Durham, who was a redshirt freshman and got some playing time. Aside from him, everybody else is brand new, and we have to be very patient. I spoke to my offensive coordinator, Anthony Golden, and said we need to keep a little more structure for these guys because their lacrosse IQ and maturity isn’t quite where we’d like them to be compared to Andrew Scalley, Brett Schmidt and Cody Lehrer. … They knew the tendencies of each other, their strengths, and how to play into that. With these guys, it’s brand new, and it’s a brand-new team. And that’s exciting. We’re excited about that. So yes, patience on our part has to be greater, but I think it can’t be the Wild West out there. You have to kind of bring it in a little bit, and we have. We’re keeping it simple in structure, and so far, so good.”