After opening the season with a 23-6 loss to No. 3 Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s has scored back-to-back victories over then-No. 17 Bucknell and Delaware. So what has changed? Not much, according to coach Tom Gravante.
“I think my staff and I knew that we were capable of beating these teams,” he said Monday morning. “I’ll always go back to the stat sheet, and there are certain stats that you have to win or at least go 50 percent on, and we knew they were capable. At Maryland [on Feb. 12], they were just awesome that day. They dominated and we didn’t get a chance to compete. … They’re a good team, and they played very, very well, but we said let’s move on, and they did. That’s what we need to continue to do. I don’t think we’re as much a different team as I think we’re playing better and we’re winning certain stats on that sheet. As long as we can continue to do that, I think we’re going to grow as a team and hopefully peak at the right time. The overall goal is to win the conference championship and compete in the NCAA tournament.”
The Mountaineers upset the Bison, 12-11, eight days ago, but after upending Delaware in last year’s season opener, that squad dropped four of its next five games. So Gravante was understandably pleased to see the current team avoid a similar letdown against the Blue Hens on Saturday.
“We made sure that these guys didn’t underestimate Delaware,” he said. “They only had a one-goal loss to Bucknell and a one-goal loss to Loyola, and they played a good High Point team for the win. When you really look into the history, Mount St. Mary’s doesn’t beat Delaware, and of course, that’s what I sold our guys on. I told them, ‘Yes, we can, and you’ve got to believe.’ So we’re very pleased. We were worried about the big win factor after last year.”
Mount St. Mary’s next challenge entails hitting the road for a Tuesday meeting with No. 14 Virginia (2-0), which has won all 10 meetings with the Mountaineers. It’s a tall task, but Gravante said he’s not counting out his players from making some waves as Air Force did with its 15-10 upset of No. 7 Lehigh on Sunday and Penn did with its 14-9 upset of No. 12 Duke Friday night.
“That’s our job as a staff, to make sure that they’re feet stay on the ground,” Gravante said. “It’s three games out of 15, and it’s still early. Anything can happen. So we want to continue to get ready for the next opponent and study them and battle on that field. It’s going to be a great opportunity for these kids. … When the game starts, [Virginia is] going to be out for blood, and I understand that. That’s what they do. For them, it’s about hunting the national championship, and a game against Mount St. Mary’s could be one of those trap games. They don’t want that to happen, but you’ve got to show up and play – no matter what team you’re on. That’s what we want our kids to do. We want our guys to battle.”