After escaping with a 9-8 overtime decision over Centennial Conference rival Ursinus on Wednesday night, No. 6 Washington College went through equal amounts of relief and confidence.
“From a coaching standpoint, a huge sigh of relief,” coach Jeff Shirk said on Thursday afternoon. “I think from the players’ standpoint, there was an excitement. We definitely dodged a bullet against a very good Ursinus team that played very well last night. But at the end of the day, it was a little more excitement than relief because we found ourselves in a dogfight right from the beginning and found a way to win at the end when it looked like we weren’t going to. So I think it was a great experience that will help build the program and the team.”
The Shoremen improved to 10-1 overall and 5-0 in the conference, further solidifying their grip on first place in the league. They have a 1½-game lead over No. 16 Gettysburg (7-4, 3-1), Franklin & Marshall (9-3, 3-1) and Dickinson (6-5, 3-1), but Shirk said the team can’t feel content with three conference games left, including tilts with Dickinson and Gettysburg.
“It feels good, and I guess it’s comfortable to know that we haven’t lost yet in the conference, but I don’t know how comfortable you can be with Dickinson on Saturday and Gettysburg the next Saturday,” Shirk said. “I think from a confidence standpoint, the guys are confident and from a coaching standpoint, who wouldn’t want to be undefeated in the conference right now? But we’re stressing to the guys, ‘Let’s not look at the record and let’s not look behind us. Let’s make sure we’re focused on Dickinson, who proved that they’re not having as awful a year as people thought with their win against Gettysburg [on Wednesday].’ I like where we’re at, but we’ve got to look forward because there are some big games coming up.”
Dickinson, a NCAA tournament quarterfinalist last year, went through a stretch of losing five times in seven games, but the Red Devils tagged Gettysburg with its first league loss in a 12-7 victory on Wednesday.
“They were just trying to find their way,” Shirk said. “They graduated a lot and they changed their defense from a pressure man defense to more of a zone defense. There’s going to be bumps in the road and a learning curve to that. I think Coach [Dave] Webster has done a great job in kind of restructuring that with the guys he has, and I think it’s starting to click for them. So they’re dangerous and we’re going to have to be on top of our game to make it a close one.”