By Tim Marcin
Elm Staff Writer
It’s time, Washington College. As the memory of snow melts out of our minds and the sun starts to warm our body and souls—the lax sticks start to make their way out. Lacrosse is the most popular sport on campus, and the beginning of each spring marks the dawn of the new season. After a disappointing campaign last year, the young team looks to be on the rise.
The biggest change the lacrosse team has undergone since last year is the introduction of a new head coach. Taking over the reins of the squad is Jeff Shirk, who came to WC after four years at the helm of D-I VMI. With the new coach comes a new philosophy. Shirk’s motto for the team this year is, “Play hard. Stick together.”
After finishing with a 4-10 record last year the team needs to be together in order to bounce back. It was the first sub .500 season since 1995, hopefully meaning last year was a fluke season. Shirk and the squad seems optimistic about returning the proud program to its winning ways. In an interview with washingtoncollegesports.com Coach Shirk said, “We’re rebuilding but we have a lot of talent and a great group of guys”.
A lot of that talent is young, with the 51 man roster having 18 freshman and only 5 seniors. One of the few seniors however, is Doug Herdegen, a captain of the team and last years team MVP. He was also named to the All-Centennial Conference team last year. Other captains of the squad are junior Bryan Botti, senior Shane Kaski, and junior Billy Stafford.
Herdegen and Kaski both serve on the team’s offensive midfield unit, which returns more players than any other. Herdegen scored 29 goals and assisted on seven others while Kaski added 11 goals and two assists. Other top returners in the unit include sophomore Pat Coyle who looks to build on a solid freshman year (eight goals, eight assists), along with junior David Lundquist (five goals, six assists). Freshmen Hunter Nowicki, Sam Eckerson, and Tom Petty all look to be contributors this year as well.
The Shoremen’s key returning long-stick midfielder is Jonny Poe who tallied 17 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers, and two assists.
The unit also looks to freshmen Casey McKnight and Mike Barbalace, as well as junior Garrett Matthews to be major contributors. Top short stick defensive midfielders include junior Michael Pancottine (21 ground balls, nine caused turnovers, two assists) and senior Nash Evans-Hodgson (12 ground balls, 1 goal).
A captain heads the attack, like the offensive midfield—Billy Stafford, who tallied up six goals and nine assists in last year’s season looks to guide this unit. Sophomores Matt Lewis (six goals, one assist last year) and Bennet Cord (three goals, three assists) are also at the forefront of the Shoremen attack. Freshmen Ryan Ohlin and JD Campbell look to be in the mix as well.
Botti, who led the team with 16 caused turnovers and also picked up 22 ground balls in last year’s campaign leads the defense. Other key players in the unit are juniors Matt Hager and Jack Vermeil, along with sophomore Michael Pierandri. Freshman Taylor Lynn looks to be in the competition for time as well. In the net could be any of three goalies. Junior Peter Stewart (.557 save percentage in four games last year), sophomore Matt Miller (.556 percentage, 34 ground balls) and freshman Ted DiSalvo all look to get some time during the year.
With the leadership of the captains and other key players the Shoremen look to make a big splash this year. They are taking the “play hard” half of their new motto to heart. Shirk said in the same washingtoncollegesports.com interview that “we’ve got a whole new system and a whole new direction. Our guys are working hard – coming early to practice and staying late.”
Not only has the team developed a fantastic work ethic, they are also living to the “stick together” part of their motto. Herdegen especially is embodying that ideal. Coach Shirk said in the same interview, “[Herdegen] has really embraced being a captain and looks out for our guys off the field as much or more than anybody else.”
With the team coming together, they must be itching to take on their first game, which comes this weekend against Landmark Conference Champions Goucher College at their place. Coach Shirk and the team have it all in perspective however.
Shirk said to washingtoncollegesports.com, “we’re already headed in the right direction off the field and with work ethic. We don’t talk about winning games – we talk about putting in the work and preparing for game days. We’re trying to create that mentality of focusing on preparation so that when game days come, we’re confident that we have a great chance to win.” That mentality can only mean good things for WC.
While the Shoremen will be in a new position, as underdogs, they seem ready to handle the challenge. In a school ravenous for lacrosse, it looks like the team is heading for greener pastures after a tough year. Get ready for it WC; it’s lax season once again.
February 25, 2011
Volume LXXXI Issue 16