At 8-0, Washington College leery of looking ahead

Upcoming games against No. 2 Dickinson and No. 7 Salisbury loom, but No. 4 Shoremen turning focus to Saturday's home contest against Franklin & Marshall

March 29, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Twelve teams in Division III have yet to sustain a loss this season, and one of them is No. 4 Washington College. The Shoremen improved to 8-0 after Wednesday’s 11-10 win at Haverford, and coach Jeff Shirk doesn’t shy away from the hoopla surrounding the team’s unblemished record.

“It’s awesome. I’ve never been 8-0,” he said Friday morning. “It’s been a fun ride so far because everyone keeps talking about the War on the Shore [against No. 7 Salisbury on April 17] and the [No. 2] Dickinson game [on April 13] and everybody I talk to is looking ahead. We’ve got to make sure that as a group, we don’t do that and we focus on the next opponent. So 8-0 is great, and I want to make sure that the guys are excited about that, but we’re worried about that ninth game and nothing else down the road.”

The program’s best mark is an 11-1 record posted by the 1967 squad. This year’s team is generating a considerable amount of buzz around the campus in Chestertown and even nationally, but Shirk said there is no internal pressure to go undefeated.

“I don’t think so because the seniors brought it up yesterday that they’re not focused on that,” he said. “The question I had for them was, ‘If we take a loss right now, does that kill us?’ And unanimously, the answer was no. What I’m trying to stress to them is, let’s go out and be mentally ready to go and play as fast as we can. If we’re flying around the field and putting forth our best effort and it’s not enough that day, we can all live with that. So I’m just trying to stress to the guys what the important things are. We don’t have to win, but we have to play as hard as we can and try to have as much fun while we’re playing and let the chips fall where they may.”

As he has done this season, Shirk convened with a select group of players to gauge the team’s attitude and mindset. He sat down with the team’s six seniors Thursday because of something he noticed after Wednesday’s narrow victory.

“We walked off the Haverford field and couple of the guys almost looked like they lost,” Shirk said. “So after thinking about it and talking about it with the coaching staff, I just wanted to touch base and make sure that they were still excited about this and they realized that yes, it was a close game and it was hard fought and we didn’t necessarily expect it, but a win is a win and they need to be excited about it. So that was the big reason for the meeting.”

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