Following the lead of teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Dartmouth, Mount St. Mary’s claimed an early-season upset when it knocked off No. 18 Delaware, 12-10, on Saturday.
The victory was the school’s third against a Top 20 opponent and first since 2010 when the Mountaineers upended Lafayette, 14-12. The importance of the outcome was not lost on coach Tom Gravante.
“I think it’s a very significant win in regards to the marking of this program and really sending the message that we’re turning the corner,” he said Monday morning. “We can run with the rest of the great teams in and around the Baltimore-D.C. area. For many years, because we’re kind of disconnected by our location in the Northwest [portion of the state] and the full-time coaches and scholarship money wasn’t there, we were kind of the beaten-up team. But now I think we’ve kind of made a stand and a statement in a positive way. The hope obviously for me is we’re going to get more of these top-tier teams to turn their heads and look towards us, which would increase the competitiveness [in recruiting] throughout the state of Maryland.”
Eight different players scored for Mount St. Mary’s (1-0), which got a game-high three goals from junior midfielder Daniel Stranix. The team won despite finishing without a single assist, which Gravante said had never occurred during his tenure with the school.
The next step for the Mountaineers is maintaining that high level against No. 1 Virginia on Tuesday, Towson – which hasn’t lost to Mount St. Mary’s since 1975 – on Saturday, and Drexel on March 17 before diving into their Northeast Conference schedule.
“What was so special was that immediately after the Delaware game ended, my cell phone blew up with text messages from all over,” Gravante said. “One close friend of mine who played at Rutgers said, ‘Now you have to validate.’ I shared that with my squad, and I asked them, ‘What do you think he means?’ They said, ‘Well, we have to show people we’re for real.’ And that’s right. If we want to make a statement here and absolutely say that this program has turned the corner, then we’ve got to validate. We didn’t say that starts Tuesday. We said that started in practice yesterday, to come out and have two strong days of practice and get ready for the No. 1 team in the country. That’s the bottom line. Our game plan isn’t going to change in terms of how we want to go about this UVA game.”