Fighting for a berth in the Centennial Conference tournament, No. 12 Washington College could have used a week to dissect last Saturday’s 15-10 loss to No. 2 Dickinson and prepare for Saturday’s road contest against Gettysburg. Instead, the Shoremen get the unenviable task of welcoming reigning national champion and No. 5 Salibury to Chestertown Wednesday night for its next installment of the “War on the Shore” annual series.
In the past, the rivals have met on a Saturday, but because of Centennial Conference obligations, Washington (10-2) could not meet the Sea Gulls (13-3) on a Saturday. So both sides agreed to meet Wednesday night, but it’s still not an ideal situation for coach Jeff Shirk, whose Shoremen currently own the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.
“Gettysburg’s got a whole week to rest up and prepare for us this Saturday, and we’re getting ready to come off of Dickinson, Salisbury and then Gettysburg,” he said Monday. “Ideally, we didn’t want to play this mid-week, but unfortunately, with the conference changing when the conference tournaments are, this was the only date that we could fit it in. Hopefully, moving forward, we can get it back to a Saturday.”
The arrival of 10-time national champion Salisbury is usually more than enough motivation for many teams, but Washington also is trying to snap a losing skid in which the program has lost the last 11 games and 14 of the last 15 meetings with the Sea Gulls.
Shirk has no doubt that the players will exert themselves fully Wednesday night, but he also admitted that he’s worried about the players not having enough fuel in the tank for Gettysburg.
“It’s absolutely a concern,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we’re trying to get the guys’ legs back with mandatory ice baths, and we’re working with our strength and conditioning coach to make sure that we do everything we can to get the lactic acid out after each game, and we’ll do it again starting Wednesday night after Salisbury, and hopefully, we’ll have our legs back by Saturday.”
Jim Berkman knows how Shirk feels. The Salisbury coach pointed out that his team endured a similar arduous stretch when it lost to No. 9 Lynchburg on Feb. 16 and Washington & Lee on Feb. 20 before beating Widener on Feb. 23.
“They’ve got a lot on their plate, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s just a tough week of lacrosse. You’ve got to be focused, you’ve got to be up, and you’ve got to play your best three times in a row in seven days. That’s a tough week. … Those first two weeks were like Hell Week for us. So I know where they’re coming from. It’s a tough week when you’ve got to prepare that hard in that much against three teams in which the slightest mistake can be the difference in a game.”