The Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (1-5) will travel south to Durham, N.C. this Saturday to take on the No. 11 Duke Blue Devils (5-3). The Hoyas lost both of their games last week, including a one-goal loss to the Hobart Statesmen (4-3).
The start to the Hoyas’ season has been a tough one. Three of Georgetown’s first five opponents were ranked in the top 20, including the No. 1 team when No. 2 Notre Dame (4-1) sat atop the rankings in Georgetown’s season opener.
Graduate student midfielder and captain Joe Bucci said the team remains confident in weeks leading up to a tough opponent.
“[Staying confident] is about refocusing and focusing more on ourselves. We have to remember that lacrosse is fun, and once we do that and enjoy time with each other, that’s how we stay confident and find our groove again,” Bucci said.
Head Coach Kevin Warne said he looks at the upcoming game against Duke as an opportunity to prepare Georgetown for the upcoming Big East play.
“When you play college lacrosse, you know Duke has had a ton of success the past decade and we want to play the best we can team-wise, and there have been other top teams in the country in the past that have been a great gauge for us as we head into conference play in a couple of weeks,” Warne said.
The Blue Devils, who started the season ranked No. 3, fell in the rankings after back-to-back losses to the No. 14 Harvard Crimson (4-2) and the No. 18 Richmond Spiders (6-1) earlier in the season. In their most recent contest, the Blue Devils defeated the No. 13 Loyola Greyhounds (4-2) in a decisive 15-6 victory.
Duke has a fire-powered offense, led by senior midfielder Myles Jones and sophomore attack Justin Guterding. Jones, who was the first overall pick in the 2016 Major League Lacrosse draft, has 31 points this season. A young talent on an experienced Duke offense, Guterding leads the team in goals with 20.
The Georgetown defense has a tough task ahead of them to shut down Duke’s top players.
“[Jones is] a talented player. He always has to be accounted for all over the field so we need to be aware of where he is,” Coach Warne said.
Jones’ involvement in Duke’s offense has only improved over the course of his collegiate career. Not only does he dodge and score big goals for the Blue Devils, but he also has added a new element to his game by focusing on creating opportunities for his teammates to score and has started to appear on the assist section of the stat sheet more often.
“He’s a two-headed monster, so we’re going to make sure we do the right things. If we’re going to support the guy playing him, we have to do it correctly and make sure we limit his ability to hurt us with his passing that has improved unbelievably,” Warne said.
Jones and Guterding are only two assets of the top-ranked Duke offense. Duke owns the fourth-ranked offense in the nation, averaging 14.1 goals per game. In comparison, the Hoyas average 8.5 goals per game. The Hoyas’ defense will be on its toes all game and must be ready to help each other out to slow down the Blue Devils’ juggernaut offense.
“It’s going to take a team effort [on defense] and it’s not going to be just one guy. It’s going to be all of us playing together defensively as a team,” Bucci said.
Warne recalled last year’s meeting between the two teams, when Georgetown battled hard throughout the whole game and fell 15-13.
Warne wants his defense to remember that it is capable of competing with high-caliber teams.
“[The defense] needs to take it upon themselves and have a lot of pride. It’s a team we played last year and [we] lost by two goals, and I think we are very capable of playing well. Whether its communication, sticking to our fundamentals, or doing the little things that will help us in the big picture over the two hours that we play on Saturday,” Warne said.
According to Bucci, the key to beating Duke is simple.
“[We need to] just play our game. Nothing is going to be special. We’re going to go out there, stay together, play for each other, and play good lacrosse,” Bucci said.