The Georgetown men’s lacrosse team changed their season’s tone with an impressive 16-13 victory over the Villanova Wildcats last Saturday. With the home victory, the Hoyas returned to the top 20 rankings, moving to 18, increasing their chances at a postseason bid to the Big East tournament.
Not only was this victory crucial for Georgetown (9-4, 2-2 Big East) in establishing its postseason chances, but the team showed remarkable improvements in their playing style that was impeding the team from beating top-ranked competitors, as the defensive aggressiveness led to more turnovers, with nearly the entire roster showing improved decision-making.
The Hoyas showed off their newfound ability to control possession directly from the first few minutes. The Hoyas had a difficult start against the Wildcats (7-5, 2-1 Big East), falling to 5-1 in the first quarter. They managed to claw back before the end of the second half, reducing the gap to one goal, now only trailing at 7-6. The Hoyas stayed within striking distance primarily because of their success in countering the Wildcats in possessions.
Freshman forward James Reilly managed an impressive performance at the faceoff X after a tough loss against Loyola last week. In that contest, Reilly was only able to win 44% of his faceoff attempts, while Reilly broke out to win 22 of 32 faceoffs against Villanova, fishing at 69%. If a faceoff get-off wins just over half of the faceoffs, it is a successful performance in that aspect. In achieving this record, Reilly and his defensive midfielders on the wings gave the Hoyas a big advantage over the Wildcats with all of the extra possessions.
The Hoyas consistently displayed the importance of controlling time of possession from start to finish. This performance was a departure from recent weeks, when failing four out of six clears in the first half of the game alone created a big impediment for the Hoyas against Denver.
Georgetown was successful on eight of 10 clears in the first half against Villanova, and all eight clear opportunities in the second half, showing immense strides. The offense cannot score the ball if the opponent has the ball, but the Hoyas’ faceoff and defensive units showed promising glimpses of the future.
The last noteworthy and promising improvement from the Hoyas was the increased presence of the offense from midfielders and attackman. Senior attack Daniel Bucaro, junior attack Jake Carraway and senior Midfielder Lucas Wittenberg have been consistently strong performers, but freshman attack Dylan Watson and freshman midfielder Declan McDermott made a good showing, each scoring a goal.
Senior attack Robert Clark tallied one goal as well as fellow senior Austin McDonald who provided a crucial goal at the end of the fourth quarter, with Villanova charging back to a one-goal deficit. McDonald scored by diving into the crease, claiming a safe two-goal lead for the Hoyas, which they would refuse to relinquish for the rest of the game.
The dynamic attacks Bucaro and Carraway led the offense in points. This victory comes after last year’s game against Villanova, in which Bucaro suffered from a torn ACL, bringing his impressive 2018 season to an abrupt end.
The senior captain proved his offensive greatness by keeping the Hoyas in the game despite their four goal deficit in the first half. Down 6-2, Bucaro got on the board by scoring with his back to the goal and shooting the ball between his legs. He went on to assist in the next four straight goals for the Hoyas, giving them their first lead of the game.
Carraway led all scorers with five goals and two assists. On the defensive side, Owen McElroy made 15 saves, including his six crucial saves in the fourth quarter that kept the Wildcats out of contention.
This performance against the Wildcats is promising given their previous record against top-ranked teams, demonstrating their improvement over the last couple weeks. The Georgetown men’s lacrosse program will have the chance to continue this momentum in their last two games of the regular season.