After opening the season with back-to-back losses by a combined three goals, Washington has ripped off four consecutive wins, capped by Saturday’s comeback 10-9 victory over Centennial Conference rival McDaniel.
The Shoremen’s run has gotten this far despite a spate of injuries that have depleted the team of some of its top players. Sophomore attackman Jim Cusik, who registered 16 goals and three assists last year, tore the meniscus in his knee against Catholic March 10 and is out for the remainder of the season. senior attackman Billy Stafford (nine goals and five assists in 2011) and junior long-stick midfielder Jonny Poe (34 groundballs and 18 caused turnovers) tore the anterior cruciate ligaments in their knees in the preseason and are out for the year. And junior attackman Matt Lewis was diagnosed with pneumonia last week and is expected to miss at least two weeks.
But coach Jeff Shirk said he has been buoyed by the fact that the remaining healthy players haven’t blinked in the face of mounting bad news.
“No one put their heads down,” he said. “Guys just looked to the next guys in line and said, ‘OK, who’s going to step up?’”
Shirk pointed to senior attackman Dominic Serio, who returned after sitting out last season and scored two goals in his first start against McDaniel. Freshmen like attackman Grant Hughes (11 goals and one assist) and midfielder Adam Smith (2, 2) have also made contributions.
Shirk said he has noticed a different atmosphere around the players during their spurt.
“I think guys have started to gain a little confidence, and things have started to click a little bit,” he said. “We’re playing a lot of young guys who are just beginning to mesh with some of the older guys, and I know it sounds kind of simple, but I think it’s just our confidence level has started to rise.”