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Jeff Shirk has no hesitation about throwing freshmen into Washington College men's lacrosse's season opener

The youth movement is on at Washington College.

The Shoremen, the ninth-ranked team in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association preseason poll, will open the season on Saturday at home against Goucher and plan to play a number of freshmen.

Rookie Owen Evans will join senior Jim Cusick (Calvert Hall) and junior Sam Birnbaum on the starting attack. Freshman Matt Allen will be part of a four-man rotation with junior Luke Birnbaum and sophomores David McBrien (Calvert Hall) and Brendon Hurley on the second midfield.

Freshman Zach Kelly will start at long-stick midfielder, and rookies Keita Cristophe (McDonogh) and Bennett Lloyd will see playing time as the fourth and fifth defensemen.

“I think we’re going to throw the guys into the fire a little bit,” coach Jeff Shirk said Friday morning. “I think that whether you’re a junior starting for the first time or a freshman starting for the first time, it’s still a new experience. So we really just let it play out in practice and whoever performed the best were the guys who were going to play. We do have a bunch of freshmen out there that we know there’s going to be some learning moments and a learning curve. But we’ve also got a lot of upperclassmen out there that will help guide them along and hopefully pick up some of the slack. But at the end of the day, the decision was made not based on what grade they were in, but who performed better at that spot in practice.”

Shirk also announced that the first midfield would consist of senior Hunter Nowicki (Franklin), junior Grant Hughes and sophomore Sid Looney. And sophomore Brad Wollman (Glenelg Country) will join senior Casey McKnight and junior Dan Pulzello as starting defensemen.

Washington College will play without senior long-stick midfielder Mike Baker and sophomore attackman Casey Kermes. Baker, who was second on the depth chart behind Kelly is dealing with a herniated disc, and Kermes, who was in contention to start, will sit out with a hip ailment.

Shirk said there is no definitive timetable on their return.

“Baker’s been in and out,” he said. “He’ll play, and then it will flare up on him once in a while. Casey has been to the orthopedic guy and he’s doing his rehab, but hasn’t been able to get back out yet. So it’s more week to week with Kermes and more day to day with Baker.”

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