Courtesy of Saturday’s 16-12 win against Centennial Conference rival Dickinson, No. 5 Washington College became the first team to earn a spot in the upcoming league tournament. But with two more conference games remaining, against No. 20 Gettysburg on Saturday and Swarthmore on April 26, the Shoremen are eager to capture their second regular-season title in three years.
“I think when you hit that point in the season when you know that you’re going to be in no matter what, it’s a bit relieving, but to be honest, the focus is solely on Gettysburg and trying to finish the regular season out on a high,” coach Jeff Shirk said Wednesday afternoon. “There have been more than a couple of years since we’ve had success against Gettysburg. So to honest with you, the focus is really on Gettysburg and trying to figure out a way to get the monkey off our backs. I want to say it’s been a good 14 or 15 years since we’ve beaten Gettysburg. So it’s great from my perspective that we’ve qualified for the Centennial already, but the focus is definitely on Saturday and trying to get into the 'W' column against Gettysburg.”
If Washington College (11-1 overall, 6-0 in the Centennial Conference) can get past the Bullets (8-4, 4-1) and the Garnets (4-8, 1-4), the Shoremen would also seize home-field advantage throughout the league tournament.
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That’s no guarantee of future success -- the Shoremen did the same thing in 2012 but fell to Dickinson in the title game. Still, Shirk said the players understand the importance of playing host to the tournament.
“It’s one of those things where I think in every location, but especially in Chestertown, there’s a definite home-field advantage,” he said. “So I think the guys aren’t necessarily comfortable by any means, but I know they’re definitely eyeing that home-field advantage because they understand how much that can help them.”