This past spring yielded a positive result for Hood. The team matched a program record for wins with eight and went 7-2 against opponents outside of the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth.
On the other hand, the Blazers amassed a 1-7 record in the league, finished eighth in the nine-team conference, and are still in search of their first berth in the league tournament. That might explain why the players are champing at the bit to pick up where they left off.
“The seniors were excited to see the growth in their four years, but the guys that we sat down with are motivated and hungry,” coach Brad Barber said. “They expected to be in the MAC tournament, it didn’t pan out, and they want that. This is a group that wants to win, and coming up short in those games, that’s the type of mentality that you need if you want to continue to build. I certainly saw it. … Pretty much every kid I sat down with said, ‘Coach, we’re going to compete in the MAC tournament. We’re going to get there.’ You could tell that they want it, and they’re going to work for it. I couldn’t be any happier with the mentality that we have going into the summer. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the fall.”
Hood dropped games against Albright, Arcadia and Lycoming by a combined five goals. Had the team won those games, it would have finished with a 4-4 conference record and qualified for a berth in the league tournament.
“Obviously, we want that to swing our way,” Barber said. “It was frustrating at times, but that’s part of growing pains. Rome wasn’t built in a year, and that’s our philosophy. We want to keep chipping away at the rock and make sure that we get there. We want to be a competitive team in the MAC, and we are. Would we have liked the Albright, Lycoming and Arcadia games to fall our way? Absolutely. If we win those three close games, we’re in the conference tournament. So that’s definitely frustrating to look at.”
There were plenty of individual on-field accomplishments. Sophomore attackman Grayson Zubradt set school single-season marks in goals (52) and points (60), sophomore attackman Zak Kooser established a program record for assists (41), and senior faceoff specialist Zach Kauffman led the MAC Commonwealth in percentage (.668) and ground balls (113).
But those achievements pale in comparison to the team-wide objective of making the league tournament.
“There were guys saying, ‘Hey, we need more. We’re not going to be satisfied with just the bare minimum,’ ” Barber said. “This is a squad that wants to win, and this is a squad that wants to compete. It’s a team that wants to compete for the MAC championship. It’s not a team that is OK with mediocrity. It’s a team that wants to be better for themselves and the school.”