Washington College enjoying first Top 10 ranking in almost four years

Shoremen moved from No. 13 to No. 8 after knocking off then-No. 9 Washington & Lee last Saturday

March 05, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Many coaches disregard the importance of polls. But Washington College coach Jeff Shirk admitted that the team’s placement at No. 8 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll is a significant moment for the program and school.

“I think it’s a pretty big deal because it’s created quite a buzz,” Shirk said Monday. “The alumni are happy, the kids are excited, the school is excited. So it’s one of those things where as a coach, we try not to put too much stock into it, but the reality is, it creates quite a bit of buzz around the school and the program.”

The Shoremen cracked the top 10 for the first time since March 23, 2009. While that’s a noteworthy achievement, there’s also the other side of the coin where the high ranking can make a team a bigger target for opponents. But Shirk said the pressure is no different on a top 10 program than it is on a top 20 team.

“I think the target is always on you when you’re in the top 20,” he said. “I know last year when we faced Dickinson when they were No. 5, it really helped motivate us. So I’m very aware that a top 10 ranking is going to maybe get other opponents excited than they might already be to play you. But the reality is, we’ve got to be able to play. We’re going to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we’re mentally, physically and emotionally ready to go.”

The first challenge to Washington’s lofty ranking will take place Tuesday when the Shoremen visit No. 20 St. Mary’s. The Seahawks were crushed by No. 4 Dickinson, 19-5, on Feb. 23, but they did upend then-No. 11 Roanoke, 13-12, on Feb. 17.

“I think they’re good,” Shirk said. “They’re athletic. Their offense moves so much that it kind of has us focusing on making sure that we’re playing fast and we’re communicating because they’re not a team with just plays. They play well with each other and they’re aggressive and they attack. So it’s one of those things where I think they’re good, and I’m expecting a close, hard-fought game.”

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