Mount St. Mary’s is well aware that a win against Northeast Conference rival Wagner this Saturday propels the team into the league tournament as the No. 4 seed.
But before the Mountaineers can focus on the Seahawks, they will get a visit from No. 8 Maryland, last year’s national runner-up that will travel to Emmittsburg for a Wednesday night meeting.
Mount St. Mary’s coach Tom Gravante said the players should expect a very motivated Terps squad after falling to No. 4 Duke, 6-5, in Friday evening’s semifinal of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
“They’re probably going to be very angry and agitated because they let one – you might say – get away in the ACC Tournament,” Gravante said Monday. “So we told the kids, ‘Let’s not look past these guys [to look] at Wagner. Let’s play this game and have some fun Wednesday night and then we’ll deal with Wagner on Saturday.’”
Ordinarily, a coach and team might prefer a full week of practice to prepare for a game with such meaningful implications as Saturday’s road contest at Wagner contains. But Gravante said he thinks Maryland’s presence can actually benefit the players.
“As a player, I would always rather play than practice,” said Gravante, a standout attackman at Hobart from 1985 to 1988. “It didn’t matter who we were playing. I think that’s a great way to go. It beats practice. Some coaches don’t believe in that, but I think it’s a great opportunity. It will take the edge off and it provides more game experience. Sometimes a week’s practice wears on a team mentally and towards the end, they start to lag when you need them to be enthusiastic and upbeat. … So this should break it up a little bit.”