No. 13 Washington College has long forgotten about Saturday’s 16-8 victory over Goucher, a result that avenged a two-game sweep by the Gophers last season. The impending visit by a higher ranked opponent can have that kind of effect.
Washington & Lee (4-0) is scheduled to visit Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium in Chestertown this Saturday. The Generals edged then-No. 1 Salisbury, 7-6, in double overtime and then-No. 10 Denison, 8-7, last week to move up to No. 9 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.
That’s why Shoremen coach Jeff Shirk isn’t too worried about a potential letdown after the emotional win against Goucher.
“If W&L hadn’t beaten Denison and Salisbury, we’d be stressing to the guys that we don’t want a letdown and that the guys have to stay focused,” he said Tuesday. “But W&L is No. 9 in the country, and we’re only No. 13. So we actually come in as the underdog, which I like. Yesterday at practice, guys were really motivated and really excited. So I don’t foresee us having any letdowns.”
Washington & Lee is averaging 12.5 goals and 42.2 shots this season, and a big reason has been that team’s ability to convert defense into offense. Shirk said he has been impressed with the way the Generals have tried to turn every defensive stop into a transition opportunity.
“They push everything, and it’s up and down,” he said. “We watched the Denison film, and Denison tried to slow them down, and that’s why it was a lower scoring game. But it’s one of those things where I’m picturing an up-and-down game. They’re skilled. They’ve got confidence. They’ve won those two close games. So it’s not like they’re going to fold or anything if it’s a close game. I’m expecting another one-goal game this weekend. So it should be interesting.”
A game devolving into a track meet might alarm some coaches, but Shirk isn’t one of those coaches. He is confident that Washington has the depth in the midfield to keep pace with Washington & Lee.
“I would hope that it would [become an up-and-down affair] because we’ve got some depth and we can run those middies up and down,” Shirk said. “We’ve got seven or eight middies that can go both ways. But you never know. I fully anticipate a track meet on Saturday, and we’ll kind of see which team is in better shape.”