Postscript from Goucher at Washington

Gophers celebrate program's first victory in NCAA tournament, view accomplishment as next step in development

May 10, 2012|By Edward Lee

Second Landmark Conference tournament crown in three years? Check.

School-record number of wins in a single season? Check.

First NCAA tournament victory? Goucher can now cross that off its to-do list after edging Washington, 5-4, in a first-round contest at Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium in Chestertown Wednesday afternoon.

The accomplishment may not sound like much to programs like Salisbury, Cortland and Tufts, but try telling that to the Gophers players.

“It means everything,” senior attackman Rory Averett said. “At the start of the season, we set a couple goals, and the last thing we set was winning our first NCAA game, and here we are now. We’re about to travel to [No. 1 seed] Salisbury [on Saturday] and you don’t get a better opportunity than that. It feels incredible. We’ve worked hard for it all year and put the time in. to have it come true now is a blessing.”

A good number of the players on this year’s squad were on the 2010 team that advanced to the program’s first NCAA tournament, but lost to Middlebury in the first round. It’s a memory that still resonates with junior defenseman Paul Taylor.

“I was on that team,” he said. “A lot of these guys were on that team, and that really stung. It’s been in the back of our minds for a couple years, and I think we’ve all worked together as a team. Today really meant a lot to a lot of people.”

The victory is a reaffirmation of the work coach Kyle Hannan and his staff have done to remake Goucher, which had been a middle-of-the-road team prior to the last four seasons.

“When you’re the new guy on the block, it takes a lot to be recognized,” he said. “When you look back at Goucher over the last four years, we’ve won a lot of lacrosse games. We’ve had a couple championships at the conference level. So this is another big step in what we’re trying to build. We just want to be consistent and be recognized and kind of appreciated for what these guys do. I think today, we kind of made that statement, that Goucher is a good, solid lacrosse program. And now because we’ve done it for a stretch of years, I think people can understand that Goucher should be right where we are.”

Other notes:

*The Gophers’ defensive effort against the Shoremen was highlighted by junior goalkeeper Connor Mishaw’s 15 saves, many of them from point-blank range. But junior defenseman Paul Taylor also played a role, limiting junior attackman Bennett Cord to a lone assist. Cord had entered the game as Washington’s leader in goals (38), assists (21) and points (59). “He’s predominantly right handed, and I just tried to take away what he wanted to do,” Taylor said. “He likes to inside roll, and I just focused as hard as I could. It was really a team effort. Every time I needed help, someone else was there. I think everybody helped.”

*Goucher’s win was tempered slightly by the Shoremen’s prowess on faceoffs. Freshman Michael Trapp won 9-of-12 draws and scored two goals off faceoffs. “We went into the game knowing that they had some really good scorers. So I think our defenders were holding a little bit longer so that their scorers couldn’t score,” Hannan said. “Their first goal was by the faceoff guy, their second goal was by a D-middie, and their third goal was by the faceoff guy. So they had three of their defensive players score three of their four goals. But we held a little too long. We should’ve gone to the shooter.” That task figures to get even more difficult against Sea Gulls junior Tyler Granelli, who has won 67.6 percent (196-of-290) of his draws.

*The Gophers unnerved Washington a little by slowing the pace of the game and being very deliberate on offense, which led to extended possessions. It was a strategy that Shoremen coach Jeff Shirk had seen before, but Goucher’s execution was impressive. “If I was game-planning against us, I’d try to do the same thing,” Shirk said. “Dickinson did that, Gettysburg did that, and I think they did a good job with that. It took us out of the game a little bit and with them doubling Bennett on the wing and us not moving the ball very well, it worked well.”

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