Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas Face High Expectations in 2002

MEN’S LACROSSE Hoyas Face High Expectations in 2002 By Tom Kenny Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore attack Neal Goldman competes last season. He will look to add to the Hoyas’ offense in 2002.

To say expectations are high for the Georgetown men’s lacrosse in 2002 would a gross understatement. They are the two-time defending ECAC Conference Champions and were picked by the league’s coaches to capture their third straight crown this year. They boast the ECAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in senior midfielder Steve Dusseau. Junior long stick midfielder Kyle Sweeney was named ECAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Face-Off Yearbook ranks them No. 7 in its preseason Top 25 poll.

“It’s pressure, but it’s nothing we’re not used to,” Dusseau, who led the Hoyas with 50 points last season, said. Indeed, expectations may be highest among the Hoyas themselves. “Like every year, players and coaches share the goal of competing for the national championship,” Head Coach Dave Urick said.

There is good reason for confidence among this year’s Georgetown team. Twenty-eight lettermen and seven starters return from last year’s squad which finished the year 11-3 and 5-1 in the ECAC. At the attack position, two of three starters return. Junior Mike Hammer and Sophomore Neal Goldman, who scored 15 and 11 goals respectively last season, lead the Georgetown front line. Senior Doug Staab will fill the third starting spot. “Doug had an outstanding preseason,” Urick said. “He worked hard to get where he is.” Dusseau could also see significant time at attack this season. “He’s a senior so we want to get a lot of miles out of him. He’s in great shape,” Urick said.

The Hoyas’ midfield will be anchored by Dusseau and junior Trevor Walker, who started last season with Dusseau and finished the year with 11 goals and seven assists. Along with the two returning starters, senior Phil Vincenti should see increased playing time this spring. Two other midfielders, sophomore Mike Boynton and junior P.J. Paolisso fought injuries during the preseason but are expected to play in tomorrow’s opener when the Hoyas play host to conference rival Ohio State. Georgetown should benefit from the added depth in the midfield.

Despite the strength of the other two units, Urick said he feels much of the team’s strength rests on the defense. “We’re as strong at defense as we’ve been since I’ve been here,” Urick said. “We haven’t had injuries down there.” Anchoring the unit will be senior goaltender Scott Schroeder. Schroeder is as experienced as they come having started every game in the last two seasons for the Hoyas. Schroeder, a captain this season, posted his best save percentage of his career in 2001 at .589.

Joining Schroeder on defense will be three starters from last year’s unit which ranked 10th in the nation defensively. Sweeney was ECAC Defensive Player of the Year and a third team All-American in 2001 in addition to his preseason honor in 2002. Junior defenseman Brant Gresham played in all 14 games last season and joined Dusseau and Sweeney on the Preseason All-ECAC First Team. Senior defenseman Mike Harney, another captain, also played in every game last season and picked up 34 ground balls.

The Hoyas’ freshmen class in 2002 is as strong any in the past. “Every year we keep getting bigger and faster athletes into the program,” Dusseau said. “The classes have been better, and we keep getting the talent.” However, since the Hoyas are a squad with a great deal of experienced players, the freshman class will probably not have a huge impact in 2002.

“It’s not easy for freshmen to have an immediate impact,” Urick said. “When they do, it means you either had a really good recruiting class or your program needs a shot in the arm.” However, he does expect freshman midfielder Andy Corno to contribute on face-offs this season. Freshman midfielder Brice Queener has also seen time in the preseason due to injuries suffered by upperclassmen.

Despite their wealth of talent, things will not be all that easy for the Hoyas in the 2002 regular season. They cannot afford a letdown if they intend to return to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season. As two-time defending conference champions, the other five teams in the conference will be gunning for them.

“We have to be particularly mindful that teams are going to come after us even harder,” Urick said.

The ECAC was determined mathematically to be the toughest conference in the nation last year and should be just as strong in 2002. Urick sees Massachusetts, Penn State and Navy, who handed the Hoyas their only conference defeat in 2001, as teams that could challenge the Hoyas’ position on top of the league.

Along with playing a difficult conference schedule, Georgetown will play some of the best in the country outside of their conference. “Our schedule is the toughest we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Urick said.

The Hoyas will once again play national powerhouses Duke, on ar. 24, and Syracuse, 2000 national champion, on May 4. Both of those games will be away from Harbin Field. This year though, the Hoyas have added three more stellar programs to their schedule in Cornell, Brown and Loyola, who ended the Hoyas season last year 11-9 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I’ve marked that game on my calendar,” Dusseau said.

All 12 of Georgetown’s opponents in 2002 are ranked in Face-Off Yearbook’s Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll. Three of their opponents are in the Top 10.

One of the reasons for the this year’s upgraded schedule was the increasing difficulty in securing one of 12 available NCAA Tournament berths. For the first time in 2002, all six conferences in Division One will have an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, leaving even fewer at-large bids up for grabs.

“It was the right thing to do to make sure we’re competitive in the NCAA Tournament Committee’s eyes,” Urick said. “The committee has sent a message that it is important to play a tough schedule.”

Due to the shrinking number of at-large bids, winning a third straight ECAC title is even more important for this year’s Hoyas than it was in past years. “The NCAA has accomplished their goal of emphasizing league play,” Urick said.

Urick noted that the NCAA Tournament field could be expanded to 16 teams as early as 2003, but that will make no difference for the 2002 Hoya squad. Thus the Hoyas cannot take any game on their schedule for granted. Dusseau said he believes leadership will be the key ingredient in helping the Hoyas return to their first Final Four since 1999.

“Last year we had strong leaders, but the overall focus drifted toward the end of the year,” Dusseau said.

He added that the team’s motto for 2002 is simply to work hard, every day, the same as it was when they reached the Final Four in 1999. “There’s no reason to stop once we get to the Final Four,” Dusseau said.

While returning to the Final Four is obviously a priority for the Hoyas, it is not their sole focus. “The Final Four is a great experience for the players and the program, but from my standpoint, the journey is more important than the destination,” Urick said. “We want to improve each time out and play to the best of our ability. The only game we want to win is the next one.”

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