Jim Shuck refuses to measure the success of his Anne Arundel Community College women's lacrosse team strictly on its showing in the win and loss columns.
"The wins will come," the first-year coach insists. "I'm just trying to develop a program that offers locals an opportunity to compete in a quality girls lacrosse program that will give them exposure to the bigger schools which offer scholarships."
Hence, the reasoning behind Anne Arundel's 1992 schedule, which includes the University of Maryland, Virginia and Loyola. While the Pioneers won't be playing the varsity programs at these schools, the players will be exposed to others in the coaching ranks who could assist in financing their higher education.
"I'm looking forward to a good season, but I'm not looking for an undefeated season," said Shuck, who took over the program in late January after Lacey Frazer resigned after one season to take assistant coaching positions in women's lacrosse and field hockey at Washington College. Last year, Frazer ledthe Pioneers to an undefeated regular season and a 4-2 showing in the state tournament.
"Winning and losing doesn't matter, it's the higher level of competition that makes you better," Shuck said. "I'm looking to have a good time, and I don't care if we win. I just want to see good finesse and a good passing game.
"I want to win, but I'd rather see a controlled game. Lacrosse that's played in the air is the prettiest of women's sports."
When things start getting ugly on the field, Shuck will turn to sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Pastranato direct defensive traffic and maneuver her up-front forces to decrease the number of high-percentage shots on goal.
Pastrana, a former All-County performer at Broadneck, is taking it slow after an injury to her Achilles tendon, but Shuck expects her to be at full speed before the team's April 10 home-opener against St. Mary's College.
"She's out of her cast and is slowly working her way back into the program," Shuck said of his co-captain.
"Shannon is going to be thekey to our defense. She's a solid keeper, and she knows how to run the defense. She reads the field well and should help us maintain possession of the ball."
Kim Raff, the Pioneer's other co-captain, returns as third man on defense and will be joined by second-year sophomore defensive wing Lisa Renaud.
Renaud is one of three Seton Keough players on the Anne Arundel roster. The other two, freshman Jackie Cavey and sophomore Stacy Tavik, will join Severn graduate Hope Schied, who spent last year at the University of Rochester.
"I relate our defense (to) basketball," said Shuck, who admits to leaving most of his offensive coaching to his assistant, Abigail Janssens. "I'm into body positioning, instead of physically checking someone. It's the 'be there first' concept of defense."
Offensively, Shuck is relying on Meade graduate Stacy Barger and Tracy Tobin, a product of St. Mary's who transferred from Randolph Macon Women's College, where she had been nursing knee and groin injuries.
Barger is expected to provide the Pioneers with offensive leadership from her position at second home (attack), while Tobin will bolster Anne Arundel's scoring at center.
"Tracy will be a big part of our transition game and a bigpart of our overall control," said Shuck, who was named Anne Arundel's women's soccer coach last fall.
"She has a good shot and good field sense. She's an all-around athlete and an All-County caliber player who can play high-level college lacrosse if she stays healthy."
With only 14 players on his roster and a variety of injuries already plaguing his team, Shuck has his players working at several positions "just to be ready."
"All of the attack players are interchangeable," said Shuck, whose attack is rounded out by Christie Cade (SouthRiver), Christie Griffith (North County) and Corrie Bishop. "All of them will know the offense and know how to move in it."
Shuck saidhe has been pleasantly surprised by his team's performance and attitude to date, but still stresses the insignificance of winning.
"We're going to get better every game and every year," he maintained. "We just have to look at the big picture."
ANNE ARUNDEL COMMUNITY COLLEGE WOMEN'S LACROSSE SCHEDULE
March 10 St. Mary's home 4:30 p.m.
March 18 Harford away 3:30 p.m.
March 28 Trinity College home 1 p.m.
March 31 Maryland away 4:30 p.m.
April 2 Hood away 4 p.m.
April 3 Essex away 3:30 p.m.
April 4 Villa Julie Home 11 a.m.
April 7 Goucher home 4:30 p.m.
April 8 Harford home 4 p.m.
April 12 Loyola away 11 a.m.
April 14 St. Mary's away 4:30 p.m.
April 21 Notre Dame College away 4 p.m.
April 24 Essex home 3:30 p.m.
April 25-26 Maryland State Tournament TBA
April 28 Virginia at Towson State TBA
April 30 Villa Julie away 5 p.m.
May 2 Army home 1 p.m.