When asked to reminisce about Goucher's 6-5 loss to the Merchant Marine Academy in the semifinals of the Landmark Conference tournament on May 1 – an outcome that prevented the top-seeded Gophers from capturing their third tournament crown in four years – coach Brian Kelly quipped, "Do we have to?"
It's encouraging to see that Kelly's sense of humor hasn't been affected by that setback, but the second-year coach said the loss resonated throughout the program at the time.
"We were 6-0 in our conference and felt pretty good about where we were heading into the tournament," he said. "To come up short of our goal of being in the Landmark championship and playing for [a berth in] the NCAA tournament was disappointing. It's our goal to get back to the success of winning the championship and playing the NCAA tournament."
Eight months have passed since that outcome and the memory may have faded, but Kelly said the players should recall how they felt as they walked off Beldon Field in Towson.
"I think you want them to remember the feeling that comes with unfinished business, not reaching your intended goal," he said. "You want them to think about it and do some analysis on maybe why that happened. Obviously, you learn from your mistakes and your failures. So certainly, there's a large part of this year where we want our guys to remember why we came up short last year and hopefully build on that."
With a returning offense nearly intact from last season, Goucher has the potential to be in the mix for the conference tournament crown again. And the players haven't been shy of voicing that goal.
"There's a tremendous work ethic on the team," Kelly said. "They work on a lot of stuff on their own, they're in the weight room on their own. They're pushing themselves and they want to be back on top of the Landmark Conference. They want to get their opportunity to make some noise in the NCAA tournament."