Washington College’s starting attack of senior Jim Cusick, freshman Owen Evans and junior Sam Birnbaum has combined for eight goals and five assists in the team’s 2-0 start, but the unit has encountered its fair share of hurdles.
After opening several eyes with a two-goal, three-assist performance in a 16-7 rout of Goucher on Feb. 22, Evans was shut out in Saturday’s 15-8 walloping of then-No. 15 Washington and Lee. Birnbaum scored his first goal of the season for the Shoremen – who moved from No. 8 to No. 7 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll – against the Generals, but that was it.
With senior J.D. Campbell (three goals and two assists in 2014) and junior Stephen Luck (1, 1) bringing a good deal of experience, coach Jeff Shirk could make a few changes in the starting attack, but he said he hasn’t reached that point yet.
“To be honest with you, J.D.’s played a lot. So J.D. could very well start down the road,” he said Monday. “I don’t know if he would do it over Sam or if it would be one of the other guys like Owen Evans or Jimmer, but it’s one of those things where we really have a four attackman rotation. So while we have three starters and Sam has been one of them, J.D. has played just as much as any of the other guys. We even had Stephen Luck get significant minutes in the W and L game. I look at it more of as a unit as opposed to who’s starting and who’s not because at the end of the day, they’re all really getting equal playing time.”
With just one goal and zero assists, Birnbaum would seem to be a candidate to be demoted. But Shirk said Birnbaum, who ranks third on the team in ground balls with seven, has shown promise.
“He’s a hard-nosed kid, and he’s kind of feeling his way through different things,” Shirk said. “He’d have a couple more points if things went his way. He had a crease call where I don’t think he was in the crease, and there were a couple no-call push calls when he got underneath. I think he’s right on the verge and doing everything that we need him to do to kind of break out a little bit. I think he’s done a very good job. It might not show it from a points standpoint as much as he would like it to, but I think he’s done a very good job.”