Granted the program’s first ranking in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, Washington will test that No. 15 ranking this Saturday when No. 17 Gettysburg visits Roy Kirby Jr. Field in Chestertown.
The Shoremen (8-2 overall and 5-0 in the Centennial Conference) own a half-game lead over the Bullets (7-3, 4-0), who have captured the league championship 13 times. But Washington, winners of eight straight, is riding its own wave of confidence.
“It’s one of those things where that can absolutely work in our favor,” coach Jeff Shirk said Monday. “As a coach, I know we’re going to have to be prepared and we’re going to have to execute because Gettysburg is very good, and the more film I watch on them, the more I realize how good they actually are. But from a players’ standpoint, it’s great thing to have confidence in your ability, and it’s a great thing to have confidence in your teammates. And we have a lot of confidence right now and guys are having a lot of fun playing. So it just gets me excited to kind of get through this week and do what we need to do to play again.”
If the Shoremen can get past Gettysburg, they would have just two remaining contests against conference foes in Swarthmore next Wednesday and Ursinus April 28. One win among those two, and Washington would capture the regular-season championship and cement the top seed and home-field advantage in the second-ending league tournament.
It’s a thought that hasn’t escaped Shirk’s attention.
“It’s absolutely in the back of my mind,” he said. “I would be lying to say it’s not in the back of the players’ minds. But the approach that we’ve taken all year is, ‘Let’s focus on the task at hand and not think about anything else.’ Right now, it’s Gettysburg, and I think everyone understands how big this game is and what it could mean for the Centennial Tournament. But we’re also big on not focusing on the big picture when you’ve got to take care of the little picture first.”