- The Enterprise
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Twenty-four hours after winning the Capital Athletic Conference men’s lacrosse championship, St. Mary’s College of Maryland Seahawks four-year senior Albert Mitchell was still not quite sure if he was in a dream after Sunday’s 13-11 victory over Salisbury or if he was living the reality.
The answer: Both dream and a reality.
Mitchell and his teammates passed the CAC trophy around the bus on the way home after the win over the Sea Gulls on its home field as St. Mary’s secured its first-ever NCAA Division III national tournament bid in school history, and he realized it was dream come true.
“I am still kind of waiting to wake up a little bit,” Mitchell said. “It’s something that we always talk about and dream about and worked for, but it never really hits you until you actually do it. I think on the bus ride home, it finally hit me that we were CAC champs and going to the tournament.”
After watching the NCAA men’s lacrosse Division III selection show as a team late Sunday night, the Seahawks will travel to face Lynchburg College (Va.) tonight in a contest scheduled for 7.
Mitchell picked up a game-high 10 groundballs in the CAC title game, but it was the come-from-behind manner that allowed the Seahawks to begin living in a real-life dreamland.
Down 10-8 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Seahawks scored three goals within the next three minutes to take an 11-10 lead.
Patrick Mull (2 goals) scored to make it 10-9 and Conor Jordan (2 goals) followed with back-to-back goals to give St. Mary’s the lead.
Sophomore Matt Tarrant, who led St. Mary’s with a game-high four goals, then scored the fourth-straight goal for the visitors to give it a 12-10 lead with just 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
Salisbury came into Sunday’s CAC championship game as the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse national champions and having already defeated St. Mary’s 15-4 on April 13 at Seahawk Stadium.
“We’ve been preparing for this,” St. Mary’s head coach Chris Hasbrouck said. “Since I’ve got the head job, the goal has been to win the conference tournament and make it to the NCAAs. We’ve been putting all of our energy and thoughts and work into this, so it’s something that is a very, very good accomplishment for the team.”
Ben Love, who leads the Seahawks with 36 goals scored this season, scored two goals in the championship win.
“The thing was, going into this game, everybody knew that we could win this game,” Love said. “The last time we played them, we lost to them by a good bit, but we were in the game, going back and forth, but we just couldn’t finish and they were capitalizing at the goal.”
He added, “It feels great right now. Everybody on the team is really happy. The thing is, all of the guys are so close together on this team. I have never been on a team with such great chemistry. Everybody loves everybody.”
Gordy Long scored a goal in the win on Sunday for St. Mary’s and explained that preparation does not change going into a national tournament game.
“We’ve been having some short, tight and hard-working practices and getting the sticks loose,” Long said. “In our practice today [Monday], the entire campus could hear us because we were talking with our voices. It was pretty awesome. We just keep the same mentality that seems to have been working for us.”
Hasbrouck echoed those sentiments.
“We’re going to keep it as similar as possible,” he said. “We are going to keep things the same. We’ve really tightened up and shortened up practices. ... We’re going to focus, go out there and get loose and start putting the game plan together.”
Will Lerch added two goals for the Seahawks. Lerch (The Calverton School) is joined locally on the team with Taylor Cook (St. Mary’s Ryken), Teddy Secor (Calverton), Gordon Muldoon (Patuxent), Ryan Jenkens (Calverton) and Ben Ganoe (Patuxent).
Tonight, these local players will be a part of history as St. Mary’s plays in its first NCAA tournament game ever, which was all a dream to Mitchell during his freshman year three seasons ago.
“The team my freshman year and the team this year are polar opposites,” Mitchell said. “I think the culture that coach Hasbrouck has put in place at St. Mary’s is one of hard work and dedication to the program and that was not as present my freshman year. ... We’ve all brought in and it’s truly one team with one goal.”