By Derek Stiles
Despite sitting at fourth place in the Centennial Conference standings with only four conference games remaining, the Shorewomen know their playoff berth is far from certain after narrowly missing out last season.
“Our program’s vision is to contend for a Centennial Conference championship every year,” Head Coach Rachel Boyle said. “The motivation for that is both personal and collective for us as a program. They are personally committed to prepare themselves at a high level and they are an incredibly hard-working group of young women who push each other every day and welcome challenge.”
This past weekend, Washington College took one step further to qualifying for the playoffs with a 2-1 win over the Dickinson Red Devils in their annual Pink Game. The score line might suggest a close game but the entire box score would say otherwise.
The Shorewomen held a 18-6 shooting advantage along with a 15-4 advantage in penalty corners. Although WC was able to give themselves a two-goal cushion in the first half they were unable to finish it off in the second and let Dickinson back into it when the Red Devils nabbed a goal back in the 60th minute. Washington College kept Dickinson’s high-power offense in check the rest of the game, however, the Shorewomen were able to seal a conference victory over a team next to them in the standings.
“We have focused all season long on attack 1/4 play, sustaining an attack and creating offensive opportunities, specifically, execution of our corner battery,” Boyle said. “This offensive pressure, however, comes from our mindset and diligence in defending the ball. The main focus of our team defensively is about denying smooth transitional play and marking offensive threats.”
Although the win was important one for WC, the team knows it has bigger mountains to climb in the coming weeks with a visit from No. 5 in the NFHCA Poll Ursinus Bears and a trip to Lancaster, Pa. to take on No. 6 Franklin and Marshall. McDaniel will be no pushover either as they currently hold the same conference record as the Shorewomen, but they stand a spot below in the standings due to goal differential.
A constant factor throughout the year for WC has been their stingy defense. The Shorewomen have only allowed more than one goal in a game twice this season (both of which they won.) Allowing only six goals through six conference games, the team hopes to stifle the potent attacks of the Bears and Diplomats who have scored 47 and 35 goals respectively.
“Our team as a whole is in great shape and we work very hard if someone is beat by an opposing player to hustle back and defend,” sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Davis said. “As a defensive unit we really cover each other’s back and work hard to interchange throughout the field. But without offense the ball won’t go in the goal. Both (junior)Jordan Mitchell and (junior) Emily Eline have been phenomenal at bringing the ball up the field and keeping it in our possession.”
With their next game against the Diplomats on Saturday at noon in Lancaster, the Shorewomen hope to jump another spot in the standings in their pursuit for a conference playoff spot. They hope to give the Dips their second loss of the season as they’ve only lost to No. 5 Ursinus 2-5 earlier this season.