Mount St. Mary's enjoying the view from the top
Saturday’s 16-10 victory over host Quinnipiac vaulted Mount St. Mary’s to the top of the Northeast Conference, and the Mountaineers (6-5 overall and 3-0 in the conference) are enjoying sole possession of first place in the league.
“It’s a great, great feeling,” coach Tom Gravante said Monday. “I know that outside of the program, the alumni and parents are very, very happy, but again, the pressure is still on to maintain our status, to stay focused and stay humble.”
The Bobcats had entered Saturday’s contest with an unblemished 2-0 record in the Northeast Conference, but Mount St. Mary’s scored the first five goals en route to a 10-2 advantage at halftime.
Quinnipiac opened the second half on a 4-1 run, but the Mountaineers maintained a large enough lead to win comfortably. Still, Gravante said he would have preferred that the team maintain its dominance without the third-quarter hiccup.
“It was great to smash them as we did,” Gravante said. “But as a coach, I was worried that we wouldn’t keep that momentum, that we would sit back and say. ‘This is a piece of cake.’ And we kind of did. We lost a little bit of our mojo. … We lost that sense of urgency, that killer instinct. It happens, unfortunately, often. … It’s a tough thing for coaches to implement and keep with their kids, that killer instinct to not give up. 10-2 was great, but I was thinking, ‘Boy, I hope we haven’t peaked too early.’ It kind of happened. The momentum kind of changed hands in the third quarter, but we got the momentum back and stayed toe-to-toe with them. But you could tell that Quinnipiac was on the move. They were angry, they were playing with more confidence, and we really just needed to match feet with them and put them away.”
Mount St. Mary’s has two games remaining against conference foes Wagner at home on Saturday and Bryant in Rhode Island on April 30. The goal is to sweep those contests and serve as hosts for the Northeast Conference tournament on May 6 and 8.
“That would seal the deal and bring us one step closer to hosting the tournament,” Gravante said of defeating Wagner. “I think the pressure is off of making the tournament, but I think it’s on for hosting the tournament. And I think the kids really like that. They want to play at home, and that comes with a price, which we will continue to drive home. It’s all about how focused we are, especially on that practice field.”