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

Men’s Lacrosse 2003 Recap

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Defender Brant Gresham (COL ’03) clears the ball to the offense during one of last season’s games. The Hoyas finished the year in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The 2003 men’s lacrosse team proved to be, once again, the most nationally recognized team that Georgetown had to offer. They did not disappoint, reaching as high as third on the national rankings and finishing with six players named as All-Americans. The season did, however, end in a let-down when the Hoyas lost 12-7 to the eventual national champion Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

The first half of the season could not have gone any better for the Hoyas last year, as they started 8-0 against tough ECAC and non-conference opponents. The Hoyas opened against Cornell trailing at the half, but after an explosive third quarter, the Hoyas took the lead for good and beat their Ivy League opponents 13-6 – led by a four-goal, three-assist performance from junior Neal Goldman. Coming back home to Washington, D.C., the Hoyas faced a similar dilemma against the Nittany Lions of Penn State, trailing their ECAC rivals at halftime. Junior midfielder Walid Hajj showed brilliance similar to Goldman’s a week before, scoring four goals and eventually leading the Hoyas to an 11-9 victory at home.

The Hoyas quickly put to rest any questions about their character and ability in the first two games. They had come from behind twice, and in both contests, the Hoyas had at least doubled their opponent in shots taken and handily won the face-off and groundball battles showing their commitment to aggressiveness. The Hoyas took their momentum into the next two games, winning convincingly against both Hobart and UMBC to improve to 4-0.

To this point, Hoya goalie Rich D’Andrea, a starter as only a sophomore, had shown he was capable of leading the highly touted Hoyas to the top, averaging just over eight saves per game.

The next two games proved to be thrillers for Georgetown as they faced the eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils, followed by the 12th-ranked Navy Midshipmen. Determination proved to be the winning secret yet again, as the Hoyas outshot their opponents in both games, picked up almost double the ground balls and won more than half of the face-offs against Duke and Navy en route to a pair of exciting overtime wins. After the first six games, the Hoyas had compiled six wins and a trio of ECAC defensive player of the week awards by senior defensemen Kyle Sweeney (2) and Pat Collins.

The Hoyas had risen all the way to number three in the nation going into their seventh game against Brown in which the Hoyas pulled out a 12-11 win by holding off Brown’s five-goal outburst in the fourth quarter. The following week, the Hoyas mopped the floor with the Loyola Greyhounds, dominating every category including a trio of three-goal scorers to finish the game with a 14-5 win.

The next four games were tough for Georgetown, facing three top-10 teams, including conference rivals UMass and Rutgers. The Hoyas lost their first game of the season against the Minutemen from Massachusetts. The 11-8 loss did not trip up the Hoyas’ momentum as they stormed through their next two games with a 12-5 win over Mount Saint Mary’s, followed by an 8-4 defeat of Rutgers. Game 12 was not so easy, as the Hoyas suffered their second loss of the season to the fourth-ranked Maryland Terrapins by a score of 9-5. Despite the loss, Pat Collins collected his second ECAC defensive player of the week award, showing that the Hoyas had not gone down without a fight. Georgetown had still not lost the groundball or shooting battle in any game, and had failed to win a majority of face-offs in only two games.

In the last game of the regular season, the Hoyas’ third-ranked defense squared off against Syracuse, whose offense was ranked No. 2 nationally. In a close game, the difference was the Orangemen’s six goals in the third quarter as Syracuse won, 12-10.

Georgetown secured the ECAC title with the league’s best record a few days later after Rutgers beat UMass. Rutgers had done the Hoyas a favor, but there was no time to thank their rival as they got ready to suit up against the Scarlet Knights for the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The postseason started off on a positive note for the Hoyas. Georgetown outshot Rutgers 35 to 28, won 12 of 19 face-offs and picked up 33 groundballs on their way to a 9-6 win in the first round. Led by senior Jordan Vettoretti and Hajj, the Hoyas advanced to the quarterfinals to face Virginia. The 2003 national champs proved to be too much for the Hoyas as D’Andrea was shot on 40 times and only Hajj scored more than one goal for Georgetown. The Hoyas fell 12-7 to the Cavaliers ending a stellar season.

In recent years, the Hoyas only seem to be lacking tournament wins, as they have often finished high in the national rankings, but have failed to put it all together in the playoffs. With both Hajj and Goldman returning as the team’s top two goal-scorers and D’Andrea coming back with more experience, the Hoyas look poised for another tournament run this season.

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