There was a certain measure of satisfaction gained when No. 2 seed Frostburg State edged No. 6 seed Mary Washington, 7-6, in Saturday's Capital Athletic Conference tournament semifinal. After all, the Eagles were just one of two opponents to tag the Bobcats with a loss, and the memory of that 6-4 setback on April 15 did not sit well with the players.
"Whenever a team beats you, even if you don't really want the guys to, they take it a little personally," coach Tommy Pearce said Wednesday morning. "Beating a team that beat you the first time means that you were able to fix some things and play a little bit better. So I guess it's an indication that we got a little bit better from the first time we had played them."
Frostburg State (16-2), which is ranked No. 19 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) poll, can redeem its first setback of the season when it travels to Salisbury for the league tournament championship. The top-seeded Sea Gulls (14-4), who are ranked No. 8 in the USILA poll, nipped the Bobcats, 8-7, in overtime in Frostburg on April 11.
"I think anytime you play Salisbury, you get pretty amped up," Pearce said. "They've got 10 national championships, and they're a storied Division III program."
But Pearce said seeking revenge shouldn't be the team's primary motivation. With the 38th-highest RPI and the 71st-ranked strength of schedule, Frostburg State knows that winning the CAC tournament and earning the accompanying automatic qualifier is the only path to the NCAA tournament.
"I think they see this as an exciting opportunity," Pearce said. "I don't think they feel much pressure. Going into the season, we talked a lot about achieving firsts and seeing the indications that our program is pointed in the right direction, and we're going to the conference championship game for the first time, and we've got an opportunity to keep doing things we've never done."