Despite another disappointing postseason showing to cap off an excellent regular season last year, the Hoyas remain at the top of national rankings in 2023. Entering the season as USA Lacrosse’s No. 3 pick, Georgetown is gearing up to make another tournament run and cure its postseason woes.
There’s no question that Georgetown’s last season (15-2, 5-0 Big East) ended unceremoniously when the unranked University of Delaware (13-6, 3-2 CAA) pulled off the upset of the year, defeating Georgetown 10-9 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. With the loss, the Hoyas became only the fifth No. 2 seed to fail to reach the quarterfinals in NCAA history.
Undeterred by the unfortunate end to their last season, the Hoyas are coming into 2023 with equally high expectations and hopes of making their first ever trip to a championship weekend.
Can the Hoyas Match The Talent of Last Year’s Powerhouse Roster?
Last season, the Hoyas had one of the strongest rosters in collegiate lacrosse. While Georgetown will be happy to bring back many of its top talents to the Hilltop for the 2023 season, it will also suffer from graduate departures.
Georgetown boasted the best defense in college lacrosse last season, allowing an average of just 8.18 goals per game. The Hoyas’ defense is projected to be the stalwart pillar of the team once again.
Out of many notable returning players, graduate Will Bowen, the reigning winner of the Schmeisser Award — presented to the best defenseman in college lacrosse — will lead the team from the back. Bowen proved to be incredibly productive in his first season on the Hilltop, sporting 42 ground balls and causing 34 turnovers.
Despite retaining much of their defensive talent, the Hoyas lost several key contributors on the back end. The departures of defender Gibson Smith IV (COL ’21, GRD ’22), long stick midfielder Alex Mazzone (COL ’22) and short stick defensive midfielder Zach Geddes (MSB ’22) mean their vital defensive production will need to be replaced.
The Hoyas have many candidates to fill those spots, though, so overall talent should not pose an issue. Junior defenders Wallace Halpert and Will Tominovich, senior defender James Donaldson and senior midfielder Will Godine have all earned substantial prior minutes and are the most likely replacements for Georgetown’s backline. Seeing who will rise to the occasion will be an interesting narrative to follow throughout the season.
The Hoyas will also have to replace much of their offensive production. Coming into 2023, Georgetown will have lost its second, third and fifth highest scorers from last season with the departures of Dylan Watson (MSB ’22), Alex Trippi (GRD ’22) and Connor Morin (GRD ’22). The trio totaled 154 points and 115 goals last season, leaving a substantial gap for the Hoyas to fill on offense.
The Hoyas sought to replace their offensive production via the transfer portal. In what seems to be slowly becoming a trend, the Hoyas added a pair of UNC transfers in graduate students Nicky Solomon and Jacob Kelly, who both scored 20 goals last season for the Tar Heels. Bowen and Trippi transferred from UNC the season prior.
The Hoyas’ very successful transfer window was headlined by graduate attacker Tucker Dordevic, who was Syracuse’s top scorer last season, totaling 59 pts (47G/12A). With the holes left by graduate departures, Dordevic’s versatility and ability to split time between midfield and attack may prove very useful.
In terms of returners, be on the lookout for senior Graham Bundy Jr. to once again be one of the top midfielders in the country. If healthy, junior attackman TJ Haley will be vital on offense. All in all, with the transfer additions and continued production from Bundy Jr. and Haley, last season’s fifth ranked offense at 15.08 goals per game should show no signs of slowing down.
Overall, the Hoyas boast five preseason All-American picks, tying for the third most in the nation. Bundy Jr. and Bowen were selected to the first team, while Dordevic made the third team. Graduate midfielder Declan McDermott and graduate face-off James Reilly were also recognized as honorable mentions.
Between the Sticks?
The biggest question for the 2023 season is who will replace Owen McElroy (MSB ‘21, GRD ‘22). The goalkeeper sported the second best save percentage in D1 lacrosse last season (61.8%). Having exhausted his NCAA eligibility, the Hoyas will be looking for his replacement between the sticks.
The answer may have come last season, when McElroy missed three games due to injury. In his place, sophomore Michael Scharfenberger proved to be a solid replacement. In his first season on the Hilltop, Scharfenberger recorded a 59.7% save percentage for the season.
Scharfenberger’s biggest competition for the starting gig likely comes in the form of Dartmouth graduate transfer Danny Hinks, who displayed a 52% save percentage with Dartmouth last year to go 4-6 on the season.
Junior Todd Kennedy Jr. and first-year Luke Schlank are also options for Georgetown’s goalkeeper position. Regardless of who ends up between the pipes, they have massive shoes to fill this upcoming season.
Two of the Hoyas’ most notable games will come back-to-back against Notre Dame and Princeton before Big East play begins. The Fighting Irish will travel to the Hilltop Feb. 25, coming into the season ranked No. 6. Last season, the Hoyas defeated the Irish 16-11 on the road. Georgetown will seek to repeat last year’s result, this time on home turf.
The Hoyas’ only loss apart from Delaware last season came at the hands of Princeton in a 10-8 upset loss at home. The Tigers come into the season ranked No. 5. Georgetown will travel for a rematch to try to take down the Tigers in another early season heavyweight bout on March 5.
Once again, the Hoyas are projected to be at the top of the Big East, firmly solidifying themselves as the best team in the conference over long-time rival Denver. Anything short of a fifth consecutive Big East championship would be a disappointing result for the Hoyas.
On a national level, the DMV is once again proving to be a lacrosse powerhouse. The only two teams ranked higher than the Hoyas this preseason are the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins and No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers. Unfortunately, the Hoyas aren’t slated to face either team in the regular season and likely will not be able to meet them until late in the NCAA championship tournament. As such, apart from preseason exhibition games, Hoya fans may have to wait a while before they can hope to claim lacrosse superiority in the DMV.
The Hoyas will officially open their season Feb. 11 when they travel to Baltimore and take on the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.
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