Postscript from Mount St. Mary's at Virginia
Remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books where you, as the reader, would make choices for the main character and determine his/her outcome? Tom Gravante wishes he had had that option Saturday night when his Mount St. Mary’s team took on top seed and overwhelming favorite Virginia in a NCAA tournament first-round game.
Instead, the Cavaliers (15-1) crafted an 18-4 rout in dominating fashion and Gravante could only guess what might have been different if junior Ben Trapp had scored off the opening faceoff instead of getting his shot snuffed by junior goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman.
"That might have changed the course of the game a little bit," Gravante said. "You’re left wondering what might have been if we scored the first goal of the game like that."
Still, Gravante knew that one goal – as significant as it might have been – didn’t provide enough of a cushion against a Virginia squad blessed with talent and experience at nearly every position.
"To win that game, we had to be perfect," he said. "We had to be 50 percent better on faceoffs, we had to be 50 percent better on ground balls, we had to be 90 percent in clearing, and we could not give up any transition goals. … At the end of halftime, we were 0-for-4. We gave up transition goals, we were less than 90 percent clearing, we were less than 50 percent facing off, and we were less than 50 percent on ground balls. Against a team like UVA, which is so athletic, I’m sure that teams facing them next, their goals will have to be the same to be in a game with these kids."
*While playing in front of a pro-Cavaliers crowd of 3,355 might be daunting to some, Gravante said his players were thrilled to do their part in turning the focus back to lacrosse. The Virginia team and the Charlottesville, Va., community has been under intense scrutiny since former midfielder George Huguely was charged with homicide in the death of women’s lacrosse player and Cockeysville native Yeardley Love, but Saturday night was an opportunity to honor Love and return to some degree of normality. "I thought the public support that night was fantastic for the game and for the UVA men’s lacrosse team, Coach Starsia and the players," Gravante said. " … It was just a tremendous atmosphere despite the incident. The support there was wonderful, and my kids appreciated it. I don’t think it was a factor in our performance."
*The Mountaineers’ 12-5 season included the program’s first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament championship and automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament since 2003. It also paid tribute to Jeannie Schmidt, the mother of junior Justin and sophomore twins Brett and Bryant Schmidt who lost her battle with colon cancer in November. Perhaps fittingly, Mount St. Mary’s captured the conference title and the automatic qualifer May 9 -- Mother’s Day. "It was a great season," Gravante said. " … At the start of the season, we dedicated it to Jeannie Schmidt, and the boys finished it. They finished it on Mother’s Day last Sunday. It was a perfect ending to a fantastic season."