Blogs and Commentary

posted 02.27.2012 at 10.02 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: NCAA Division III

What better way to gauge your team than playing the No. 2 team on the road in the season opener? That was St. Mary's head coach Chris Hasbrouck mentality when he took his team to Salem, Va., last week. But with snow coming down by the shovel-full for much of the first half, all that went out the window.

"We couldn't take much out of it, honestly," said Hasbrouck, who saw his team bow to the Maroons, 12-6.

The Seahawks traded in the second-ranked team for the third when they traveled to the St. Paul's School on Saturday for a neutral field game against Dickinson. It was then that Hasbrouck got a look at the team he thought he had.

"We did a lot of good things against Roanoke and it didn't translate, and on Saturday it translated," Hasbrouck said of St. Mary's 12-9 upset. "We wanted to work hard and try to get it done between the lines. Defensively, we've come a long way, but we feel we have a lot of depth at midfield and hopefully we'll be able to wear teams down. I think that's what happened. Some things opened up for us during that third quarter, obviously."

The third quarter was the pivotal period. Trailing 4-3 at halftime, Hasbrouck pushed the right buttons in the locker room as the Seahawks rolled to a 6-0 third frame. St. Mary's took a 9-4 lead into the final quarter that was never threatened.

"I told the guys that this was a game for men," said Hasbrouck. "I told them it should be fun. It was two teams going at it, up and down."

As exhilarating as the Dickinson win is, Hasbrouck has read this script before. Unless the Seahawks can add a couple of more key wins onto this one, it's just business as usual. It starts with a three-game parade of F&M, Muhlenberg and No. 15 Denison.

"We're looking for consistency, to be quite honest with you," he said. "We've had some good wins in the past few years and it hasn't gotten us over the hump. Believe me, we're going to get after it [Monday] every bit as hard as we did for Roanoke and Dickinson. It's fun to play teams of that caliber and I love playing against coaches I respect. It's going to be the same type atmosphere and the same intense games. You want to win some of those, but it's all about getting ready for the conference play."

- Some things you can depend on. The sun rising in the East and Springfield winning the Pilgrim League are two constants. As such, Pride head coach Keith Bugbee schedules the toughest slate he can – the stiffest in the country last year by his estimation – in hopes of easing the NCAA experience.

"Our goal every year is to steal a couple of the early ones because it makes such a difference with the seeding," said Bugbee on his seven-hour bus ride from Nazareth on Saturday afternoon. "These early wins help so much."

For the first time in as long as Bugbee can remember – this is his 29th season at Springfield – the Pride managed to beat Naz on its own field, 15-7.

"We've had one goal games up here," he said. "We've had a lot of tight games against good teams and don't pull them all out. This is probably one of our best games this early in the year. We played a good 60 minute game. The kids played really well. I thought we kind of stayed on course."

Bugbee was hoping that his experience would pay off against a Nazareth team that is extremely young.

"Honestly, I think we are more athletic than they are," Bugbee said. "They were worried about us running by them, so they ran a ton of zone against us. We had the ball a lot. We ran a little zone against them, so time of possession was huge. We shot really well, but we kind of shot in a snowstorm, so it was kind of a crazy day. [Nazareth is] going to get a lot better as the season goes on. We have 11 seniors and they played very composed and very mature. I think our ball control was really strong today."

Ryon Lynch had an eight-point day for the Pride, but the key player might have been FOGO Branden Fernandez. The sophomore went 13-for-21 on the draw. Fernandez apprenticed under Mark Eaton, one of the most accomplished faceoff men in school history, last year and is now ready to make a name for himself.

"He has really worked hard," said Bugbee of Fernandez. "He is almost as quick as Mark, which is great, and he might even make better decisions when he gets the ball."

Springfield is off to a 2-0 start, but awaiting them to start March is No. 9 Stevens, No. 10 Middlebury, No. 13 Endicott and No. 18 Bowdoin, with a strong Keene State squad squeezed in between. Stealing is going to be tough from here on out.

- The Congrats File: to Randolph Andy Sinclair for his first career win over Piedmont on head coach Kyle Hart and Augustana (Ill.) College. The Vikings won their first two games as a varsity program (they were MCLA last spring) over Millsaps and head coach Eric Seideman for winning his first game as the head coach of Mt. St. Mary – a 25-2 triumph over Penn Aurora head coach Kylor Berkman, who knocked off Oberlin in his first game. Berkman now has a winning percentage of 1.000, which dwarfs the winning percentage of his father, Salisbury head man Jim Berkman (.912)... to Thiel head coach Jeff Arneson for his first win, a 9-6 win over Manhattanville head man Kevin Warnock for his first win as the Valiants knocked off Mt. St. Vincent, 13-6.

- Franc Cook put together his second strong game, turning away 17 shots in Lynchburg's win over F&M. Cook even picked up an assist on the day...Greensboro needed that Virginia Wesleyan game. That could hurt come May...the Mary Washington train keeps on moving. This time, they knocked off McDaniel, 9-8 in three overtimes...Wittenberg's comeback win over Sewanee may not seem like a good omen, but the Tigers needed overtime to beat the Sewanee last year and that season worked out just fine...Babson's 8-6 win over No. 20 is a setback for the Liberty, but more importantly, it shows signs of life in the Pilgrim League. Springfield has run roughshod over that conference since WNEC left, but now there might be someone to make the Pride's a little tardy, but congrats to Goucher's Kyle Boncaro for going over the 200-point mark in his career. He had a goal and two assists in the Gophers win over WAC on Saturday.