Goucher has a lot at stake on eve of conference tournament

Top-seeded Gophers dealing with history, expectations as they prepare for Landmark Conference tourney

May 01, 2012|By Edward Lee

Courtesy of a 15-1 overall record and a 6-0 Landmark Conference mark, Goucher will open the league tournament on Wednesday as the top seed.

It’s the fourth consecutive year that the Gophers – ranked 10th in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll – are the No. 1 seed in the tourney. But that hasn’t necessarily translated into success as the program has emerged as the tournament champion just once.

Winning the regular-season crown is an achievement, but coach Kyle Hannan agreed that the ultimate objective is capturing the tournament and securing the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament.

“Obviously, you’ve had a good year if you’re the No. 1 seed. But to be 1-2, it’s safe to say that’s a disappointment,” he said Tuesday morning. “We feel like we need to establish that spot as the No. 1 team and we need to be more successful in the tournament. And there’s a pride factor. Our guys understand that, and they know where we are. The bottom line is, our goal all along is to win the Landmark championship, and you have to win on Wednesday to advance in the tournament. I think the focus level is very high right now. They understand what’s at stake. It’s four very good teams. My feeling is that this year, all four teams are more balanced and are all playing at a very high level right now. So it’s going to be a very competitive tournament.”

This year’s Goucher team is riding a program-best 12-game winning streak, which will be put to the test with Wednesday afternoon’s home contest against No. 4 seed Catholic (9-5, 3-3).

Hannan downplayed the suggestion that the Gophers are under pressure to extend that winning streak.

“You could think that, but I don’t believe so just because it’s not talked about,” he said. “It’s not a focus, and it’s really not mentioned at all. We have to play Catholic on Wednesday. How much do they talk about it off the field and out of our meetings? I’m not really sure. But it doesn’t seem like it’s been a distraction. I have not heard the guys talk about it, and as a coaching staff, we really haven’t talked about the winning streak. We’ve talked more about how we’re playing. That’s the most important thing. If we keep playing good lacrosse, we should be able to continue to win.”

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