After opening the season with the same starting attack in the first three games, No. 7 Washington College made a change prior to Saturday’s home contest against Frostburg State.
The Shoremen (4-0) elected to move senior J.D. Campbell to the starting unit, joining senior Jim Cusick and junior Sam Birnbaum. Campbell scored one goal on five shots and collected five ground balls, which was second only to junior faceoff specialist Michael Trapp’s six ground balls.
“J.D.’s been playing very well, and we’ve got that five-man attack rotation,” coach Jeff Shirk said Monday morning. “We just bumped J.D. into that starting role, and you might see that fluctuate a little bit more throughout the season as we go. It’s an interesting dynamic because all five of those attackmen play and they all kind of beat each other up during the week as they’re competing. So nothing is set in stone. We just know that from a starting standpoint, all five of them play every game.”
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Campbell’s first start of the season came at the expense of freshman Owen Evans, who came off the bench with junior Stephen Luck. Since recording two goals and three assists in the team’s season-opening 16-7 rout of Goucher on Feb. 22, Evans went two games without registering a point before scoring twice on Saturday.
Shirk said the shake-up was a combination of Campbell playing and practicing well enough to warrant a promotion and Evans experiencing the typical growing pains that many newcomers inevitably encounter.
“I think J.D.’s doing a very good job and playing at a high level, and the reality is that Owen’s a freshman, and there are going to be peaks and valleys in your freshman year,” Shirk said. “Owen is by no means in a valley, but the beauty of having depth at a position is that you don’t have to throw anybody to the wolves. Owen had a great first game and in the last few games, he’s been working through some things and building back up and maybe had a little hiccup here and there. So it’s one of those things where we can ease Owen in as opposed to force him to learn under fire. He’s been playing well enough to stay in that five-man rotation, but I think J.D. has played well enough to earn a starting spot.”
Washington College will next meet Ohio Wesleyan (4-1), which suffered its first loss of the season on Sunday in a 13-7 setback to No. 5 Salisbury. The Shoremen are heading in a good direction after wins against No. 13 St. Mary’s on Wednesday and the Bobcats on Saturday.
“I think it was a big week,” Shirk said. “We always talk about taking it day by day and not looking ahead, and I think that in this program and at this school, it’s way too easy to start looking ahead to the Salisbury game [on March 18]. I think the guys did a good job of concentrating on the game at hand and not looking ahead at the Salisbury game here in another eight days.
"I think it was a big week because St. Mary’s is very good. They’re better than they were last year. They’re going to be there at the end of the season in the NCAA tournament. Frostburg, I’m impressed. Coach [Tommy] Pearce has done a great job in a short period of time of putting a competitive team on the field. Their goalie [senior Tyler Haines] stood on his head. We took 65 shots and had 12 goals, and that’s an issue we’re going to work on. But the official stat line said the kid had 18 saves, but I think he got robbed. I think we hit him at least 25 times and that’s not even counting the ones he got a stick on. It was good to get through that week with two wins.”