By Andrew Chirico
After going 7-8 last season, and missing the Centennial Conference tournament, the Shoremen lacrosse team heads into the upcoming season with a healthy mix of youth, experience, and optimism.
A majority of the team’s success last season came on the defensive end; they finished the season ranked 51st out of 223 Division III teams. The team ended up going 6-1 when allowing 10 goals or fewer, and 0-7 when they allowed double-digit goals.
The defense looks to hold that same stand behind junior goalie Ben Flood, junior captain Tim Hickey, and sophomore Kevin Wilson. Flood, who was a first-year starter last season, tallied a .536 save percentage and an 8.27 goals-against average. Wilson collected 11 caused turnovers and had 23 ground balls. The leadership will lie on Hickey, who earned All-Centennial Conference honorable mention after leading the team with 21 caused turnovers and 27 groundballs.
“This season I hope to become a more vocal leader on the defensive end of the field,” said Hickey. “I have always been a lead-by-example guy, but as one of the veteran guys on the defensive unit this year, I am working on helping out younger players by being more vocal and offering direction and advice.”
Hickey wants to capitalize on the close games that the team wasn’t able to finish last season.
“Last year, we had a lot of close games that got away from us at the end. This season, the team needs to focus on bringing the same level of energy to the second half as they do the first half, and to play as hard as they can until the very end of the game,” he said. “In the past we’ve come out of the gate hot and slowly died down toward the second half of big games, so this year, we are looking to change that and pick up some more W’s.”
Offensively, the Shoremen scored just 8.1 goals per game, but the unit returns it’s top six scorers from last season. Leading WC on the offensive end will include junior captain Tanner Barbieri and junior Tyler Powers. Both have two years experience playing with each other and are looking to continue being a powerful offensive-duo. Last year, Barbieri scored 30 goals and assisted 17, while Powers scored 25 and assisted on 10.
“We have a really strong returning offense this year, both middies and attackmen. Most of the kids on the offensive side of the ball have had at least one year of experience playing. Our main focus this year is the process. We know we as an offensive unit won’t be perfect at the start, but we want to improve each and every game to where we are playing our best lacrosse when late April and May roll around,” Powers said. “We as an offense are really clicking in these first two weeks of practice, and I think that has to do with our on and off field communication and comradery. There are so many different leaders on the offensive side of the ball, and having all these different perspectives is great.”
Barbieri is satisfied with the team’s drive as he looks to emerge as a captain for not only the offense, but the entire team.
“So far in practice we’ve seen a lot of energy, focus, and intensity. We have done a great job building chemistry and really focusing in on the little things and details that will set us up for success,” he said. “I just plan to continue focusing on the team and my teammates, by focusing on what I can do for my team to make us the best we can possibly be.”
Returning for his seventh season, Head Coach Jeff Shirk is pleased with how the team has come together in the preseason portion of the season.
“They are working hard on all the little details while also peer coaching. Everyone cares and everyone is working to get better on a daily basis,” he said. “This is a group that appears determined to do their part individually so we can all succeed collectively.”
Shirk said his team will play fast and tough, with transition playing a big role in the team’s style of play.
“Guys are expected to grind and work for everything. Fundamentals and effort are going to be a staple for us,” he said.
The Shoremen will open their season this Saturday, Feb. 18 when they travel to Georgia to take on Birmingham Southern. That following week, they will play their home opener versus Washington and Lee on Feb. 25 at noon.
By Andrew Chirico