Men's Lacrosse Season Preview

Men's Lacrosse Season Preview

CHESTERTOWN, Md. — The 2017 Washington College men's lacrosse season had mixed results. A five-game win streak to open the season and a four-game win streak later in the year pushed the Shoremen to a 9-7 record, their best since their 2014 NCAA Division III Semifinalist team, but a 3-5 conference mark resulted in them missing the four-team Centennial Conference Tournament for the second consecutive year. 

A 1-4 record in games decided by two or fewer goals - including losses in all three such conference games - dampened what might have been a rather successful bounce-back year. On their best days, though, the Shoremen showed well; they beat then 15th-ranked Washington and Lee in their home opener and lost in conference play to ninth-ranked Dickinson and 17th-ranked Ursinus by a combined three goals. That's significant cause for optimism for a 2018 season that will see the Shoremen take the field with their most veteran roster (in terms of collegiate game experience) in years. 

The Shoremen tied for fourth in the Centennial Conference in goals per game a year ago as their top three point-getters were their starting attackmen, accounting for nearly 45% of the team's total points and an even 50% of the team's goals. Those three players - seniors Tyler Powers (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) and Tanner Barbieri (Wayne, N.J./St. Peter's Prep) and sophomore Cooper Sloan (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) all return, but one should expect the scoring distribution to be a little more even between the attack and midfield units as Barbieri has moved to an offensive midfield spot for his senior season.

Moving Barbieri to midfield is a luxury the attack unit can afford, thanks to the returns of Powers and Sloan. Powers led the Shoremen in goals (36) and total points (47) en route to an All-Centennial Conference honorable mention nod. Sloan paced the Shoremen in assists as a freshman with 19, adding 19 goals of his own. Among the other returners on attack are junior Casey Grieves (Easton, Md./Sts. Peter & Paul) and senior Peter Jacobs (Arnold, Md./Broadneck), each of whom scored nine goals and assisted on 10 others last year. Also expected to compete for significant playing time is junior transfer JP Crowley (Parkland, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), who previously played at Division I Towson, and freshman Cody Pascale (West Chester, Pa./Reed Henderson).

Barbieri, an All-Centennial selection two years ago who scored 30 goals and assisted on 15 others last season, will be a welcome addition to the Shoremen's offensive midfield unit, but that unit is not without its own returning standouts. Junior Kevin Trapp (White Plains, N.Y./White Plains) scored 18 goals and handed out six assists on his way to being named to the All-Centennial Conference second team. Six of his 18 goals were of the extra-man variety, tops on the team and helping fuel the Shoremen's Centennial-best 42.2 man-up percentage. Juniors Charlie Walker (Petaluma, Calif./Petaluma), Nick Boyles (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's), and Trey Ritter (Norfolk, Va./Cape Henry Collegiate School) were also among the Shoremen's midfield scoring leaders last season. Walker tallied six goals and a unit-best 12 assists, Ritter produced 12 goals and five assists, and Boyles finished the year with nine goals and 10 assists. Junior Zack Gorrasi (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) and sophomore Jake Whittingslow (Canton, Conn./Canton) are also expected to push for time on the Shoremen's top midfield lines. Gorrasi had four goals and two assists in eight games last year, while Whittingslow added one goal and four assists in 10. 

Junior Carson Metzker (Fort Washington, Pa./Germantown Academy) and freshman Joey Sivo (West Chester, Pa./West Chester East) are expected to be the Shoremen's top two face-off specialists. Metzker went 99-for-187 on face-offs with 38 ground balls last season for the Shoremen. 

Like the Shoremen's offense, most of the defensive unit returns intact, including senior goalie Ben Flood (Atlanta, Ga./The Lovett School), who is serving as the team's lone captain. Flood was named an All-Centennial Conference honorable mention and the team's Most Valuable Player last season after posing a conference-leading .588 save percentage and an 8.44 goals-against average in his second season as the starter. Freshmen netminders Chris Del Rosario (Springfield, Va./Bullis School [Md.]) and Connor Cunningham (Port Jefferson, N.Y./Ward Melville) will back up Flood on the depth chart.

In front of Flood, senior defensemen Tim Hickey (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity) and Graham Hulsey (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) and junior defenseman Kevin Wilson (Ellicott City, Md./Centennial) all return after starting all 16 games as a unit last year. The trio combined for 73 ground balls and 39 caused turnovers in 2017. Behind them, freshman Evan Gaines (Baltimore, Md./Boys' Latin) should push for playing time.

Senior long-stick midfielder Sam Cloud (Alexandria, Va./St. Stephen's & St. Agnes) put up team-leading totals of 48 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers a year ago. He should be challenged by freshman Jason Miller (Wallingford, Pa./Episcopal Academy).

Seniors Austin Hepburn III (Radnor, Pa./Haverford School) and Pat McManus (Hampstead, Md./Boys' Latin) are the top returning short-stick defensive midfielders. They both played in all 16 games last season and, in addition to providing a combined 13 caused turnovers, contributed offensively by each scoring one goal and assisting on two others. They should be joined at the top of the unit by sophomore transfer Patrick Sullivan (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill), who played at Division I Sacred Heart as a freshman, and freshman Will Oliver (Gaithersburg, Md./Landon School)

Head coach Jeff Shirk begins his eighth season at the helm of the Shoremen and welcomes back most of his staff to the sidelines. New to the coaching staff this year is assistant coach Nick Triano, a strength and conditioning coach and former goalie at Endicott College. 

The Shoremen's 2018 schedule features games against five teams ranked in the USILA's Preseason Division III Top 20. The season will begin with a home game against Birmingham-Southern on February 17th. One week later, the Shoremen will play at 20th-ranked Washington and Lee, renewing one of their longest-running rivalries. February 28th brings a weekday home game against St. Mary's (Md.), followed by a home game against Frostburg State three days laters. Two new additions to the schedule follow as the Shoremen travel to Stockton March 10th and Bridgewater March 14th, Non-conference play wraps up with the "War on the Shore" for the Charles B. Clark Cup at top-ranked Salisbury on St. Patrick's Day.

The Centennial Conference schedule begins at home March 24th against 13th-ranked Dickinson, followed by road games at Ursinus (March 28th) and McDaniel (March 31st.) April's schedule begins with a home date against Muhlenberg on the 7th, followed by road games at Haverford on the 11th and at 15th-ranked Franklin & Marshall on the 21st. The Shoremen will finish the regular season with a home night game against Swarthmore on April 25th and a home game against 14th-ranked Gettysburg on the 28th. The Centennial Conference semifinals are slated for May 2nd with the championship game to follow on May 5th.