For a Washington College team that returned six starters and ranked No. 8 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, Saturday’s 15-8 victory over No. 15 Washington and Lee might not be terribly significant for a program that has qualified for the last two NCAA tournaments.
But for a Shoremen squad that boasts four new starters and plays several more newcomers, the win could resonate for a long time, coach Jeff Shirk acknowledged.
“I think it’s a big deal,” he said Monday morning. “We’ve got a pretty young team where we’re playing a lot of young guys, and experiences will go a long way in their maturity. So going into a game that’s very hyped against a ranked opponent that’s away, we were able to play the way that we did, and to be honest with you, we got ourselves out of a little bit of a hole because we didn’t start that great. I think it is very significant because our upperclassmen already know the routine. Close games, big games, they’ve been through it before. So that preparation isn’t altered. But for the young guys, it was their first experience. So to be able to go down there and play the way that we did and have the result that we did is going to go a long way for this group.”
Washington College improved to 2-0, but as Shirk mentioned, the team has not gotten out of the gates quickly in each contest. The Shoremen trailed, 3-2, after the first quarter en route to an eventual 16-7 thumping of Goucher on Feb. 22 and then trailed 2-1 in the first 12 minutes of the first quarter against the Generals (2-2).
So far, however, Shirk said he is not terribly worried about the slow starts.
“I’m not overly concerned because we’ve kind of battled through it, and it’s one of those things where we’ve talked to our guys to live in the moment and take everything one step at a time,” he said. “I think one of our issues is, we’ve got a group of guys that are very emotional and they get so hyped for games that the nerves run a little strong. To be honest with you, I don’t think that’s a bad thing because if you’re not ready to play and you’re not a little nervous, I question how invested you are in it. So I think that’s one of our issues, guys get so hyped and so nervous that maybe we’re a little nervous to start games and it takes us a little while to relax and get going. But again, I don’t think it’s that big of an issue and I don’t think it’s a bad problem.”