This past season, Hood labored its way through a 3-14 season, which included a winless 0-8 record in the Middle Atlantic Conference and the jettisoning of head coach Jeremy Mattoon. But assistant coach Brad Barber predicated that the team would reverse course next spring.
"Next year, I think it's going to be a totally different story," he said. "If we have this conversation next year, I think you'll have a totally different view of Hood College lacrosse. I'm fairly confident. My goal is to go over .500 and make the conference tournament."
That may sound like a lofty goal, but there may be some rationale behind Barber's stance. Next year's squad could return as many as seven starters, including a defense that graduated just one starter in defenseman George Gambrell. And soon-to-be senior faceoff specialist Randolph Clark finished the season ranked seventh in Division III with a 67.5 success rate (165-of-243) and 143 ground balls.
Barber is enthusiastic about the spate of younger players who will gain from their experience in 2013.
"The great thing about being a young team is, we're only going to get better," he said. "The next year is going to be very exciting. We're not going to be as young next year. A lot of our guys will have playing time under their belts. So we're going to expect a little bit more of them, and we're going to push them. My expectation going into next season is, I see us making the conference tournament, but we've got to make sure that we put in the work that's needed. If they don't put in the work on their own, then we're not going to get there. But I have faith in them. A lot of things get misconstrued with the losing record. People say, 'You don't have the right athletes.' But that's not true. You've got to find your niche, and you've got to find what works with the guys. Each guy works differently and they respond differently, and you've got to find that."
The vacancy created by the firing of Mattoon prior to the regular-season finale against Widener on April 27 would seem to have created some instability within the program. But Barber said the assistant coaches are still recruiting and sharing notes over how to improve the team for 2014.
"After the situation, everything kind of balanced out," Barber said. "The guys got back on track. I think the program right now is very stable, and the stability comes from a strong athletic department. … So going forward, yes, we're still recruiting, we're still getting kids to the door, and we're going from there. … I think we're set. I think we'll be good going forward."