Coach David MacWilliams asked a few of his players to replace the divots they created after their muddy 2-0 victory against St. Bonaventure at Ambler Field on Sunday.
The unusual request seemed a bit overzealous, but the Owls haven’t lost a game at home, so it was only fitting they show their appreciation by taking care of their home turf.
The Owls (8-6-2, 5-1-2) also used Sunday’s game to show their appreciation for seniors Patrick Hannigan, Nate Webb, Steve Wacker, and Andy Watto.
“Those four guys started the turnaround in this program,” MacWilliams said. “We are really thankful, and we wanted to dedicate this game to the seniors.”
Each player has had a significant role throughout their career and in Sunday’s win, too.
Hannigan had his fifth shutout of the season, and Watto helped the defense limit the Bonnies to just six shots on goal.
After sophomore Ryan McMullan’s goal in the 60th minute, Webb provided an insurance goal on a pass from Wacker.
Two St. Bonaventure players left the game with injuries in a game that was very physical. Wacker received a cut above his eye, but remained in the game.
Webb thinks the Owls are better suited for physical play.
“We usually play tough games like that, and that’s how we get the best results,” Webb said.
Physical play can sometimes lead to costly penalties. In the first half, McMullan got tangled up with a Bonnie player. They both fell to the ground, and the player started pushing and hitting McMullan in the back. Instead of retaliating, McMullan avoided a penalty by standing up and helping the other player to his feet.
This type of behavior is exactly what MacWilliams wants to see from his players.
“We preached that earlier in the season, and I think they have realized that a yellow card or any retaliation is not going to help us,” he said. “These guys have done everything we have asked of them. I’m really pleased with the way they are playing.”
The Owls have won their last four games, and defense has been the reason.
“I think our level of discipline has been very high,” MacWilliams added. “We haven’t given up a goal in the last three games, and we’ve really settled into ourselves.”
There are three games remaining before the Atlantic Ten tournament. The Owls will play George Washington (3-3-2), Richmond (1-6-1), and Saint Joseph’s (2-5-1), all on the road.
Postseason play pits the top six teams against each other, with the top two earning first round byes. The Owls were in fourth place at the start of the weekend, but with wins over Duquesne and the Bonnies, they moved into second.
Duquesne still sits atop the conference.
Last season, the Owls lost the A-10 championship to Rhode Island. This upcoming tournament will be the last opportunity for Hannigan, Webb, Wacker, and Watto will get to win a title.
Steve Wacker has been very emotional about his final season with the Owls.
“It’s been great. The best four years of my life,” he said. “It’s gone by so quick. I wish it wasn’t going to end. I love playing here.”
Hannigan also cherished the time he was able to spend with his team, and more importantly, the other seniors.
“Wack is the emotional leader on this team. He brings a lot of spirit to us,” Hannigan said. “I’m going to keep in touch with that guy for the rest of my life. He’s a good friend of mine, and he’s from my neighborhood in Philly. Getting to know Nate, who is from a different area, has been great. I’m just glad that I have had this experience.”
Andrew Monaghan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.