Playoffs begin Wednesday night for Washington College

Regular-season finale at Swarthmore has grown in significance after Saturday's 14-6 loss to Gettysburg dropped the Shoremen to fourth in the Centennial Conference

April 24, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Wednesday night’s road contest against Centennial Conference foe Swarthmore is no longer an ordinary game for Washington College, which needs the victory to clinch a berth in the conference tournament.

A win over the Garnet would give the No. 10 Shoremen (11-3 overall and 4-3 in the league) at least the No. 4 seed in the Centennial Conference tournament. If No. 19 Gettysburg (8-5, 4-2) was to lose to Franklin & Marshall (9-4, 5-1) and McDaniel (5-10, 2-5), Washington would move up to the No. 3 seed.

Jeff Shirk said he does not mind playing in a “win and you’re in” scenario.

“I’m excited to get to the game,” Shirk said Tuesday. “If you lose, you go home, and if you win, you go on. I think it really helps motivate guys. So I’m really trying to look at it as a positive to where it’s our first playoff game, and I’m hoping that it helps really motivate guys to be ready to go because the reality is, we haven’t traveled well this year. … I’m hoping that the guys know that if they lose, it’s all over and that it helps keep them more motivated on that bus ride.”

Saturday’s 14-6 setback to the Bullets erased a golden opportunity for the Shoremen to secure the No. 3 seed. The disappointment from that contest is still raw, and Shirk said he wants the players to take that emotion into Wednesday’s game against Swarthmore (4-9, 1-5).

“I think they have to be rational, but I also think they have to play with a greater sense of urgency,” he said. “You can’t walk through the motions and expect things to work out for you. I’m a big believer in some pressure is good, but not too much pressure on guys to where they’re tight and they can’t perform. But the reality of big games and the reality of life is, there’s pressure, and you’re expected to respond to pressure. So I’m excited that there’s pressure on us right now. I’m a big believer that you get the best out of guys when they’re in a pressure situation and that’s what is facing our guys.”

Moving up to the No. 3 seed and avoiding a semifinal tilt with No. 2 Dickinson (13-0, 6-0) is still a possibility. But Shirk said he is concentrating on getting to the conference tournament and will worry about the match-ups later.

“Once you get there, what’s going to happen is going to happen, and there have been upsets every year,” he said. “The main thing is, we just want to make sure that we’re there and whoever we get to play is a plus because we’re actually in the tournament.”

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