Mount St. Mary's getting prepped for wave of support behind Virginia
A cynic might say that two opponents await Mount St. Mary’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night: top-seeded Virginia and public sentiment.
While the death of Cavaliers women’s lacrosse player and Cockeysville native Yeardley Love at the alleged hands of men’s lacrosse player George Huguely has opened discussion on the state of the sport, many lacrosse fans are openly rooting for Virginia to capture the national championship.
Mountaineers coach Tom Gravante is well aware of the public support behind the Cavaliers, but he said the team remains optimistic about its chances.
"I would like to say no," Gravante said in response to whether Mount St. Mary’s will be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for Virginia. "We won a hell of a game [in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament final on Sunday], and I don’t want to pop our balloon. We are flying high right now, and we get an opportunity to play again. Right now, there are only 16 teams still playing, and that’s what I told my kids. Regardless of what happened down there, these kids really earned their opportunity to be the 16 seed, and I want them to enjoy every minute of it."
The Mountaineers and Cavaliers have met in the regular season for six consecutive seasons, and each game has been a family affair. Mount St. Mary’s assistant coach Max Van Arsdale’s uncle is Virginia associate head coach Marc Van Arsdale, and Van Arsdale and Gravante played together at Hobart.
"Marc was like a big brother," Gravante recalled. "… That’s how he’s always been. When I was at Hobart, he was a senior, and the guy really took me in. that was a growing-up process, and it was good to have him. So I’m always excited about going down there and seeing Coach [Dom] Starsia and Marc."