(Photo Courtesy of Mount St. Mary’s Athletics)
In 2019, the Tom Gravante led Mount St. Mary’s to its best season in a decade, and certainly one of the best in program history. The Mountaineers went 9-7 overall (5-1 NEC) and saw their season end in the NEC semifinals against eventual conference champion Robert Morris, 13-12.
That season marked the end of a seven-year losing streak for the Mountaineers and a four-year postseason drought. More importantly though, it showed that winning can happen in Emmitsburg.
However, since that historic season there hasn’t been too much to cheer about for the Mountaineer faithful. A shortened 2020 season hindered the Mountaineers ability to continue to build off that success, and in 2021 things went downhill as Mount St. Mary’s went 4-9 overall and 2-5 in the NEC while facing an odd schedule as many did last spring.
Mount St. Mary’s four wins last season came against a depleted Delaware squad in their season opener, VMI and Sacred Heart in April, and a blowout victory over Wagner to close their season out on May 7th. However, it should be noted that the Mountaineers did only fall by two or less goals in five of their contests (Navy, UMBC, Saint Joseph’s, Merrimack, LIU).
This offseason, the Mountaineers have made and seen moves around their program that both suggest a bright future as well as a possible bumpy, rebuilding year in 2022. Mount St. Mary’s put together one of the better 2022 recruiting classes in the NEC that is filled with guys would could make an impact right away, but that won’t be until 2023.
In the immediate future, things may a bit more foggy as the Mountaineers lost their top three scorers, including leading scorer and program great Luke Frankeny who chose to grad transfer to Richmond. Additionally, faceoff man Sam Stephan has chosen to use his final year of eligibility at Rutgers and their top pole, Bryan McIntosh, will do so at Hofstra. Four-year starting goalie Dylan Furnback, who is now serving our country in the U.S. Army, is also gone after graduating last year.
With as many key players as this team loses from a year ago, it is safe to expect that 2022 may be more of a rebuilding year for Mount St. Mary’s, but as is often the case with teams in similar situations, the chance that they over-perform is certainly there with the young and inexperienced talent this team team will have on it’s roster this spring.
Senior midfielder Jake Krieger is the Mountaineers’ top returning point-getter from last season. He put up 17 points off 11 goals and six assists while playing in 13 games with 11 starts last spring. Krieger, along with senior captains Jared McMahon (9G/4A) and Connor McMahon (10G2A), look to be the veteran leaders on this offense. The three are some of the only offensive returnees who saw more than one start a year ago.
The trio of Krieger and the McMahon brothers will join forces with what is expected to be a fairly young core to lead the way for this offense in 2022, which could include multiple freshmen as the Mountaineers’ bring in four player on that side of the field.
Defensively, the biggest question is who will fill the big shoes left in between the pipes by Furnback’s graduation. Griffin McGinley saw two starts in two games of action last season as a freshman, making a total of 10 saves with a .357% save percentage. Andrew Preston saw action in four games, playing mostly garbage time and making a total of three saves with a .333% save percentage.
Out in front of the cage, junior LSM Steven Schmitt is the top returning pole for this Mountaineers squad. Schmitt was second on the team in caused turnovers (13) last season while also grabbing 34 ground balls and scoring one goal. He spent most of his time at the LSM spot, but did see one start at close a year ago.
SSDM Noah Daniels also returns to help provide an impact on that rope unit. He collected 27 ground balls and nine caused turnovers last season while also tallying eight points (5G/3A). He could be an impact player on both ends this spring.
Junior Ben Ward is the top returning close defenseman for Mount St. Mary’s following a sophomore campaign in 2021 in which he saw action in nine games while starting in two. He caused two turnovers and grabbed three ground balls. Ward will be a part of a fairly green defensive corps this season as he is the only returning pole at close that saw a single start last season. William Pippen, Jake Wright, and Luke Roth are the only other returnees at the position that saw action last year.
The faceoff dot is another place where the Mountaineers’ must replace a multi-year impact player with Stephan’s graduation. Ethan Holobinko is the team’s top returner at the position after going 48-for-109 (.440%) at the dot as the secondary option as a freshman in 2021.