The inline hockey club travelled to Fort Meyers, Fla. for the 2013 National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCHRA) Championship from April 10-13, where they finished in the top 10.
For most of the senior-heavy club, it would be their fourth consecutive year competing at the NCRHA Championships, but it would be no small task to topple fully-funded roller hockey powerhouses from across the nation.
Mason came into the tournament ranked 10th in the nation and was placed in a pool with Grand Valley State University, University of Illinois and West Chester University.
“It was great to beat Illinois 5-2 as they are such a good team. I think we were all disappointed that West Chester University tied us 5-5 with a goal in the last 30 seconds of the game, but that shows how competitive our pool was,” said coach Eric Hardman.
The winner of the pool was Grand Valley, whose team scored 19 goals in three games of pool play, while only allowing two.
“The most surprising development was how good they looked in the pool play only to lose to University of Pittsburgh 6-2 in the first round of elimination round play,” Hardman said. “Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams there.”
Mason finished second in its pool and drew the College at Brockport: State University of New York in the first elimination round and defeated them 11-2.
In the second, round Mason faced a familiar foe in Neumann University, ranked seventh in the nation.
Earlier this year, Neumann defeated Mason 5-3. Neumann proved once again to be the superior team, winning 8-2.
Hardman did not express any regrets about his team’s performance at nationals because Mason still finished as one of the top 10 teams in the nation.
“We are mostly seniors and we know our strengths and weaknesses. When you have players that have a lot of desire and really want to play, that outweighs talent sometimes,” Hardman said. “We are one of the top 10 teams in the entire nation. I think that is saying something considering we started the club from scratch five years ago and went 2-13-1.”
While these past four years have proven successful for Mason’s team, next season will likely see a sharp drop in competitiveness, as the team is graduating eight of its 11 players.
“The team will probably shift gears and look at becoming more of a Division II team that is more focused on players with a lot of desire and heart rather than skill,” Hardman said. “With the closing of our rink, The Box, and no place on campus to practice, it is going to be a challenge, if not impossible, to have enough talent to keep us in Division I. I think most of our guys have had a great four years. It has been a great run,” Hardman said.