Tutored by one of Georgetown’s six first-team all-Americans, Travis Comeau is well on his way to imprinting his own legacy on Hoya lacrosse.
Six games into his Georgetown career, the freshman attackman has recorded five multi-goal games and leads the team with 13 goals. Such a precocious freshman would be a welcome addition to any team, but given the makeup of Georgetown’s offense, the 5-foot-8, 153-pound sniper has proven to be a particularly important asset.
“[Comeau] gives us something that we haven’t had here in a while, and that’s a real effective off-ball player,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Urick said. “There’s a definite skill involved with that; you certainly have to have people that can get him the ball, and Craig Dowd and the other guys on attack are very good at that. . But [Comeau] definitely fits the mold of a great scorer.”
During his high school years at The Hill Academy in Ontario, Comeau played for former Hoya star defender Brodie Merrill, a two-time Tewaaraton Trophy finalist and the 2005 NCAA defensive player of the year. Merrill proved to be quite the mentor for Comeau and played a key role in Comeau’s decision to attend Georgetown.
“Brodie [has] been a huge idol for me,” Comeau said. “He kind of took me under his wing my senior year, and when I was pursuing schools, Georgetown obviously came up. With his past here, he only had good things to say about it.”
So far, Comeau and Georgetown have been a perfect fit. Urick immediately inserted Comeau into the rotation as the fourth man on the attack unit, where the freshman has learned from a welcoming trio of veterans – seniors Dowd and Ricky Mirabito and junior Ryan Shuler. The coach’s faith has been rewarded with some outstanding offensive performances.
“Our leadership on the team has been huge,” Comeau said. “I feel like the whole attack team – Craig Dowd, Shuler and Ricky – have brought me into the attack unit, and it’s been really easy to mesh in.”
But Comeau has done more than simply mesh in. The freshman tops the Hoya scoring charts (senior midfielder Andrew Brancaccio ranks second with 10 goals) and was named the Big East offensive player of the week on Monday after scoring two goals in a 13-11 home win over Delaware and notching a career-high four goals in Sunday’s 14-4 road victory at Providence.
The humble freshman deflected much of the credit to his teammates, but at the same time acknowledged the added confidence that comes with the honor.
“I’m only as good as the guys around me, and they’ve helped my success. You’ll find most of my goals have been assisted, so it has a lot to do with the team,” Comeau said. “Coming in and having that honor is huge for me. It’s a big confidence booster, and I just hope I can keep it going.”
With No. 9 Georgetown (4-2) preparing to host one of the nation’s top offensive duos – Duke seniors Max Quinzani and Ned Crotty – maintaining the offensive mojo will be key to extending the Hoyas’ winning streak to three games.
The pair has lit up the scoring charts this season. Quinzani is a natural goal scorer and has racked up 31 goals and 5 assists in eight games for the No. 8 Blue Devils (4-3). Many of those goals have been set up by Crotty, one of the nation’s most talented playmakers, who has notched seven goals to go with his 26 assists on the year.
“Crotty is a heck of a player,” Urick said. “He can distribute the ball. He can create for himself if he needs to. He demands a lot of attention. . He’s a handful, and Quinzani scores a bunch of goals. [Quinzani is] a kid that, right-handed, left-handed, it doesn’t seem to matter to him.”
One Hoya quite familiar with Quinzani’s talents is senior defender Chris Nixon. The high school teammates and longtime friends have squared off each of the last two seasons, and although the Blue Devil has scored a hat-trick both times, the home side has won by four goals in each contest. Nixon expressed great excitement about their third clash.
“He’s [been] my best friend since third grade, so it’s always a fun game to play against him, and always fun to get a few whacks on him,” Nixon said. “[Quinzani and Crotty] are both great attackmen, and it’s great to go against the best competition. You always want to play the best competition, you always want to play the best players, and they’re two of the best ones this year.”
Although Quinzani and Crotty attract most of the attention – both from the media and opposing defenses – the Blue Devils are more than just a two-man show. Junior attack Zach Howell is also in the middle of a prolific offensive season, with 22 goals and eight assists. He contributes significantly to an offense that averages nearly 12 goals per game.
However, Duke’s offense can be slowed down, as Notre Dame, Maryland and North Carolina have already proven. In games against those teams – the Blue Devils only three losses this season – Duke has been held to eight goals per game, reaching double-digits only in an 11-10 overtime loss at Maryland.
When asked the most important thing for the Hoya defense to focus on, Nixon was straightforward.
“Definitely it’s the communication,” Nixon said. “With Eric Bicknese out, Barney out as well, we lost two of the big leaders and vocal leaders on our team, so other guys like Pat Schmitz and Dan Hostetler really need to step up. And the last couple games I think they have, and if we can do that I think we can do very well against them.”
Whoever gets the start in goal will also be relied on to make some key saves. Senior Jack Davis has been limited to three games with a lingering back injury but could be in line for his fourth start of the year Saturday. If not, sophomore CT Fisher will get the call, and Urick did not rule out the possibility of both goalies seeing some action.
Also set to return to the lineup is Mirabito, who left the Delaware game with a concussion following a dirty hit and sat out the Providence game. The senior is expected to play on Saturday and his presence will add to the balanced Hoya attack. Each of the four main attacks – Mirabito, Comeau, Dowd and Shuler – as well as senior midfielders Brancaccio and Scott Kocis have scored at least six goals in Georgetown’s first six games. Although no Hoya has posted numbers as gaudy as Duke’s attacking trio – Dowd leads the way with 18 points on the year – that balance has resulted in an offense averaging nearly a half-goal per game better (12.34 goals per game) than Duke’s (11.88).
In a game that could turn into a shootout, possession of the ball could be the difference.
“The ground ball element is going to be key,” Urick said. “We’ve got to make sure we get our share of those, particularly the ones that are the 50-50 grounders, the ones that are contested. . It’s always a big part of the game, and in this one I think it’s even more important.”
Saturday’s contest marks the midway point of Georgetown’s season, and the top-10 rivalry showdown is seen in the Hoyas’ locker room as a measure of their progress.
“It’s a game that I know our guys put a particular amount of focus on,” Urick said. “It’s a measuring stick for our guys as much as anything else. Let’s put it this way. There’s no trouble getting our guys ready to play.”
Face-off is set for noon at Multi-Sport Facility.