A first-round game in the NCAA tournament pitting Goucher and Washington had a little spice added when the selection committee elected to award the latter team with the right to play host Wednesday afternoon.
The Gophers, who are ranked No. 10 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, are 17-1, have won 14 straight, and beat the Shoremen, 8-6, in Chestertown on Feb. 25.
But No. 18 Washington (11-5) apparently got the edge for playing in the Centennial Conference, which also put league tournament champion Dickinson and Gettysburg in the field.
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“Completely shocked and surprised that we get to host in the first round,” Shoremen coach Jeff Shirk said Tuesday afternoon. “I think the first obvious benefit is not having to sit on the bus. So we’re not worried about bus legs and guys not being focused. But I think the No. 1 benefit is we get to play in our home stadium, listen to our home warm-up music, our seniors get another home game that they didn’t think they were going to get, the home crowd. To me, it’s a huge benefit.”
Naturally, Goucher coach Kyle Hannan had a different perspective on the selection committee’s decision.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was very surprised because I felt like we put ourselves in a position to host an NCAA game,” he said. “So it stung a little bit when I first saw that. But they have reasons for doing that, and the NCAA committee is formed to pick the games and seed them. We’ve moved past that and now we’re getting ready to play Washington College at Washington College. We’ve been there before.”