By Brian Klose
Elm Staff Writer
With their season opener at Goucher cancelled due to the recent surge of harsh winter weather, the Washington College men’s lacrosse hoped to carry on the success of their historic 19-2 2014 season by facing two top-15 teams this past week. After tough back-to-back losses to No.10 York and No.15 Washington & Lee, the Shoremen start the season 0-2 for the first time in two years, already matching the total losses from last season. The home loss against Washington & Lee also snapped a 13-game winning streak at Kibler Field, dating back to a loss to Centennial Conference rival Dickinson in 2013.
While the losses were certainly disappointing, many players shined through the adversity, including junior midfielder Sid Looney, who netted three goals against Washington & Lee
Having only played against York once in the past 10 years, a loss at home to the Spartans in 2011, WC had an especially unique challenge against an uncommon opponent. The Shoremen had plenty of returning players that are looking to continue the dominance of the recently graduated Class of 2014, which included All Americans Hunter Nowicki, Casey McKnight, Kodie Englehart, and Jim Cusick. Another major challenge faced by the Shoremen was selecting the ideal successor to goalkeeper Ted DiSalvo, who graduated in 2014 after a stellar past season and is now a member of the Charlotte Hounds of the Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Senior Andrew Bolland made the eventual start against the Spartans and he collected 10 saves in the season opener, while allowing nine goals.
In the season opener for both teams, York started the game strong, scoring the first two goals of the game and entering the middle of the second quarter with a comfortable 4-1 lead. Freshman attackman Tyler Powers scored the lone goal, the first of his collegiate career, for the Shoremen during that stretch. Senior midfielder and co-captain Grant Hughes edged the score the 4-2 with five minutes remaining tin the first half. Forty-three seconds later, sophomore attackman Owen Evens capitalized on an assist from sophomore attackman Stephen Goff Jr. to cut the lead to one just before a Spartan man-up conversion. York held the lead 5-3 into halftime.
The Shoremen came into the second half firing as senior attackman Stephen Luck quickly put WC within one after a goal, assisted by senior midfielder and co-captain Luke Birnbaum, 38 seconds into the third quarter. Looney scored his second goal of the day a few minutes later to bring the game to a tie, 5-5. Hughes gave the Shoremen their first lead of the game after a goal assited by senior attackman Sam Birnbaum. The Shoremen eventually entered the fourth quarter with a 7-6 lead.
Evens extended the WC led shortly into the final quarter. York began chipping away at the lead after another man-up conversion, and with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, tied the game 8-8 to send it into overtime. York then claimed victory in overtime after picking off an errant clear attempt by WC and shooting long-range for the win.
The hard-fought but heartbreaking loss to York forced the Shoremen to enter their home opener against visiting Washington & Lee reeling. The Generals, entering their fourth game of the season, were well prepared against WC as they won their past two games against Denison and Wooster.
Washington & Lee fired off the game’s first three scores in the first five minutes of the first quarter before Birnbaum began a four-goal flurry. Freshman attackman Tanner Barbieri scored his first goal as a Shoreman after converting a man-up possession. Evans assisted the goal.
With the score tied 4-4 at the beginning of the second quarter, the seemingly close fight quickly started to go the General’s way. A three-goal surge gave Washington & Lee a comfortable 7-4 lead in the second period. The Shoremen were then shutout 4-0 to push the Generals to a 12-6 lead entering the fourth quarter. Looney scored the lone goal for WC in the fourth quarter before another three-goal surge by W&L that secured the 15-7 victory. The win extended the Generals’ win streak to three, while the Shoremen fell to 0-2.
Over the course of the two games, the Shoremen struggled to capitalize penalty situations, going only 2-11 in extra man offence. Senior midfielder/face off specialist and co-captain Michael Trapp continued his success on the face off “x” against York, winning 11 of 19, but fell from form against Washington & Lee, winning only 10 of 24.
While the teams struggled over the past two games solid performances from underclassmen, including Evans, Goff, Barbieri, and Powers, gave WC a glimpse into the future, especially their offense. The veteran defense, led by senior defender and co-captain Dan Pulzello, are also making solid steps towards reclaiming their well-deserved reputation as a dominating defense.
The Shoremen begin a two-game road trip as they head to the Calvert School in Huntington, Md. to face St. Mary’s College of Maryland on March 4, then head west to Frostburg State on March 7.