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Qualifying for Landmark Conference tournament no longer automatic for Goucher men's lacrosse

Since 2008, Goucher and appearances in the the Landmark Conference tournament had gone hand in hand.

But the program's run of qualifying for the league playoffs ended this spring as the Gophers went 2-5 in conference play, finishing sixth in the eight-team league. The finish frustrated Goucher players and coaches, and coach Brian Kelly said no one should continue to assume that the team's spot in the league tournament is a given.

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"I think, in some respects, it was a wake-up call to the guys on the team that just putting on the Goucher jersey doesn't mean that you're automatically in," he said. "You've got to go out there and perform. I think it will be something that is a motivator. I know that it already is to the guys. You're not going to get it back, but you've got to use it as motivation for your work because you've got to realize that if you thought that was your best, your best wasn't good enough. So you've got to get better. That's the mentality."

The Gophers were not an easy out in the Landmark Conference; four of their five losses were by two goals or fewer. But Kelly dismissed the idea that the team could gain some semblance of pride from those narrow defeats.

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"In some respects, yes, but on the flip side and as a coach, I don't look at moral victories, because you wind up losing," he said. "I'm looking at, 'Where are we deficient?' and, 'Where did we lose those games?' … We were close in a lot of games, but we didn't have the culture, we didn't have the leadership. I don't know what it is. We were missing on something that, ultimately, winning teams have. They were winning those close games, but we didn't have that this year, and that's disappointing."

Goucher's last game was on April 25, and Kelly said the layoff has helped alleviate the sting of missing out on the postseason.

"We've moved on at this point," he said. "If you look at anything, the law of averages, all good things come to an end at some point in time. You don't want to be a part of that. That's certainly not the designation you want. But we can look toward next year and have that hope that the work we put in during the offseason and that the team we assemble will be good enough to get us back there next year. If you look at our conference, there's been parity for a number of years now. Teams that lose a couple games are struggling and fighting to get into the playoffs."

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