In the aftermath of Washington College’s 12-11 upset of 2013 national champion Stevenson in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal Wednesday night, coach Jeff Shirk was too amped to sleep. And he hoped that this would be a rare case of where the players did not imitate their coach.
“If they were anything like me last night, I couldn’t fall asleep to save my life,” he said Thursday afternoon. “So I’ll be ready for bed tonight, but hopefully they got a chance to sleep in and rest. Certainly from the alumni with all of the emails and phone calls I’ve received, the mood around the program is unbelievable. So from that perspective, it’s been pretty neat.”
It’s easy to see why Shirk was too emotionally charged to sleep. The win, at Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills, sent the Shoremen (18-1) to their first Final Four since 2004 and helped the program tie its single-season record for victories.
That they conquered past demons against an opponent as talented as the Mustangs (19-3) were made the outcome even sweeter, but before Washington College can truly celebrate, there is the little matter of getting past 10-time national champion Salisbury (20-1) at Sea Gull Stadium in the semifinal round unday at 7 p.m.
That responsibility falls on Shirk, who is well aware that the program is seeking its first trip to the NCAA title game since 1998 – the only year that the Shoremen brought the crown back to Chestertown.
“I think you just have to refocus them and make sure that they understand that the task at hand is in front of us, not behind us,” he said. “We’ve been stressing to the guys probably for the last five games that we’re only looking forward. If you lose, your season is over. You can’t sit back and look at your resume and what you’ve done in the past, because that’s when the future will jump up and bite you. So the guys have done a really good job at that. So I’m expecting the same right now. We will stress that last night was great, but we’re going to worry about ourselves and focus on what we need to do to get ready for Sunday.”