Despite finishing behind Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg in the regular-season standings in the Centennial Conference, Washington College earned an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament over the Diplomats and Bullets. The decision did not shock coach Jeff Shirk.
“I had the mindset that because Dickinson won [the conference tournament], [the selection committee was] going to take two teams from the Centennial, and I thought they would take us over F&M,” Shirk said Monday morning, referring to South region rankings putting the Shoremen at No. 6 over Franklin & Marshall at No. 9 and Gettysburg at No. 10. “Just based on some of the criteria, I just felt that we were going to be ahead of Gettysburg and F&M even though we lost the head-to-head games this year.”
Washington College (12-4) got one of the last spots after losing to Dickinson in the semifinal round of the Centennial Conference tournament last Wednesday and was one of the last teams revealed during Sunday night’s unveiling of the 29-team bracket. Shirk acknowledged that the process of finding out the team’s postseason fate was at times torturous.
“It got a little tense there as we were in the last half of the bracket and almost at the bottom,” Shirk admitted. “So it definitely started to get a little tense in our film room, but as soon as we saw our name, guys got excited, and practice was good. We’ve already practiced today, and it was crisp, and the guys are really excited to still be playing.”
The Shoremen will open the first round with a contest against Colorado College (13-4), which won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title, on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium in Chestertown.