WASHINGTON — Frankie McCarthy is no stranger to the art of being patient.
Thought to be Mount St. Mary's heir apparent at goalkeeper after the 2014 campaign, McCarthy was leapfrogged by then-freshman Matt Vierheller on the depth chart. McCarthy played in three games, going 1-1 in two starts, but opened the 2016 season as Vierheller's backup again.
McCarthy, a senior, proved he can bide his time well. In his season debut, McCarthy made a game-high 13 saves and sparked the Mountaineers to an 11-8 victory against host Georgetown at Cooper Field Tuesday evening.
"I knew that me and Matt Vierheller at the beginning of the season were going to be battling every week for the starting job," McCarthy said. "He's been playing great, and it was just nice that I was able to get this chance from my coaches to go out there. Getting this one is definitely helpful and definitely puts me in the right mindset going forward."
The insertion into the starting lineup didn't raise the stakes for McCarthy.
"It put a little bit of pressure, but I didn't think too much of it," he said. "We still have the same defensive unit that played in front all year. Me and Matty have been practicing with the starters since we got back in the fall. All of our defensemen played really well today. We gave up shots that I was able to see pretty easily."
Coach Tom Gravante said he and associate head coach/defensive coordinator Tim McIntee had planned to give Vierheller the first three starts of the year and then go with McCarthy against the Hoyas.
"They're both very good, and as I told you from the start when you asked me about them, I'm comfortable with either of them," Gravante said. "They're both very good goalies. One just has a little bit more of an edge than the other one. But Mac said we're going to get three games in behind Matt and give Frankie Georgetown. I said, 'You know what, I'm on board.'"
Gravante wouldn't name McCarthy the starter for Saturday's home opener against Furman at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmitsburg at 12 p.m., saying that decision is McIntee's to make.
Circling back to "Three Things to Watch" …
1) A quick start. When the first quarter ended, Mount St. Mary's (2-2) held a 2-0 advantage over Georgetown. When the third period was finished, the team led 6-5. It marked the first time this season that the Mountaineers have not trailed after the first and third quarters of a game, and fifth-year senior attackman Mark Hojnoski said the leads – however slight they were – lifted the players emotionally.
"Being up is a great feeling," Hojnoski said. "It pumps the defense up, it pumps the entire sideline up, and you can feel the momentum. It's definitely a good thing, and I think it helped us get a win today."
2) A ground ball. Another first for Mount St. Mary's was completing a game with more ground balls than its opponent. The team picked up 27 loose balls to Georgetown's 23, and none may have been more important than the one Hojnoski pounced on in the second quarter. After sophomore midfielder Ryan Hursey (Westminister) scored for the Hoyas to knot the score at 2-2 with 8 minutes, 6 seconds remaining, a ground ball from the ensuing faceoff wound its way to the Mountaineers' offensive end where Hojnoski scooped it up and flipped a shot past sophomore goalie Nick Marrocco nine seconds later to help his team regain the lead at 3-2.
"That's what can keep us in the battle," Gravante said. "It increases time of possession, can lead to transition goals. We had one. It wasn't pretty, but off the faceoff, it comes this way, and Hojnoski picks it up and is rumbling and stumbling and bumbling, and he finishes it. … It's a key to being successful in this game. You've got to win that battle and cut down on your turnovers."
3) A mental toughness. Gravante was understandably worried that Mount St. Mary's was heading into a lions' den against Georgetown. The Hoyas were seeking their first win and were playing at home for the first time. But the Mountaineers got more ground balls, coughed up just 12 turnovers to Georgetown's 17, and almost battled the Hoyas to a draw on faceoffs where Mount St. Mary's went 11-for-23. Georgetown coach Kevin Warne was impressed with the Mountaineers' workmanlike effort.
"Those guys are scrappers," he said. "They did a great job. They played hard. We didn't pick up some timely ground balls, forced some things on the clear, stuff we've gone over and over. But at the end of the day, their kids played hard."