Washington College’s bid for a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament will have to be accomplished without a trio of players who were crucial to the past two playoff runs.
Attackman Bennett Cord graduated, taking with him a team-leading 33 goals and 31 assists last season en route to being named a second-team All American. Senior Jim Cusick, who recorded 28 goals and four assists in 2012, has shown the potential to fill Cord’s role as a playmaker, but coach Jeff Shirk said he does not expect Cusick to play like Cord.
“The approach we’re taking is, who’s going to be the next guy to step up and make a name for himself in this program?’” Shirk said. “It doesn’t have to be someone that plays like Bennett, it doesn’t have to be someone that looks like Bennett, acts like Bennett. It just has to be someone that steps up and performs.”
Long-stick midfielder Jonny Poe opted to enter the workforce rather than enroll in graduate school. Senior Mike Baker (4 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers), sophomores Gavin Shuart and John Petzold, and freshman Zac Kelly are competing for the long-stick midfielder job, but the loss of Poe (46 GB, 35 CT) is just as critical for the defense as the departure of Cord is on the offense.
“We’re going to miss him, but we’re not going to dwell on that,” Shirk said of Poe. “Hopefully, we can bring some of our guys around and we know they’re not going to play as well as Jonny right away because they’re going to be younger and a little experienced. But we’re not looking to take any steps back.”
Senior midfielder Kodie Englehart registered 14 goals and five assists as a starter, but he is not currently on the roster, according to Shirk.
“We had a little learning moment in the fall, and he’s doing a good job right now of working his way through out and hopefully earning his way back onto the team by Feb. 1,” he said. “So I hope he’s on the roster by Feb. 1. He’s done everything that I’ve asked him to, but he’s currently not on the roster.”
Despite the losses, Shirk is confident that the team can fill the voids with players who have been biding their time.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are competing and are in the mix,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how it all pans out as we move forward.”