Frostburg State welcomes Mary Washington to Bobcat Stadium in Frostburg on Saturday in the semifinals of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, and both the opponent and stage are motivations for the team.
The No. 20 Bobcats (15-2) dropped just two games, but one was to the Eagles, who claimed a 6-4 win on Frostburg State's home turf on April 15. The setback occurred four days after an 8-7 overtime loss to No. 8 Salisbury, and while coach Tommy Pearce declined to link the two outcomes, he did acknowledge that the players might be amped up about the rematch with Mary Washington (8-7).
"I wouldn't be surprised," he said Friday morning. "Obviously, whenever a team beats you, you take it a little personally, and I'm sure that my guys have."
This will be the Bobcats' second appearance in the league tournament semifinals in as many seasons. Last year, they were bounced out of contention by the Sea Gulls, and Pearce said that memory might drive the players even more than seeking revenge.
"It's the conference semifinals," he said. "We made it to the conference semifinals last year and lost. I think the opportunity to take it one step further is going to be their motivation."
Frostburg State, which has already achieved several program firsts such as its first national ranking, its first 14-0 start and its first 15-win season, added its first top two seed and first-round bye in the CAC tournament. The team has a chance to play for its first league championship if it can advance to the title game on May 2, but Pearce said that possibility is off the radar screen.
"Right now, we're just talking about winning this game," he said. "This is a team we've already lost to. The way our conference tournament is set up, there's a whole week between the semifinals and final. So we don't feel like there's a shortage of time to worry about that – if we get the opportunity to worry about that. Right now, we're really focused on trying to win Saturday."