The Georgetown men’s lacrosse team lost its third straight game Saturday with a 6-5 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Denver. With this loss, Georgetown moves to 6-3 overall and 0-2 in Big East play after starting the season with six consecutive victories, while Denver continues its strong season.
Though the Hoyas (6-3, 0-2 Big East) were not able to secure a win, a close game against the highly ranked Pioneers (7-2,1-0 Big East) team is a positive sign for the team, especially given the history of the two teams’ past matchups. In their five most recent meetings, Denver won all five by a margin of at least eight goals.
Going into the game, Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Warne said he and his team had moved beyond their recent struggles.
“Our seniors were really disappointed with the way we handled the last two weeks,” Warne said, referencing recent losses to Drexel and Marquette. “We just worked this week to hold each other a little bit more accountable.”
Denver opened the scoring five minutes in, but Georgetown responded quickly with two goals from senior midfielder Craig Berge, putting the score at 2-1 going into the second quarter. A long Hoya possession started around the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, and, despite having a shot clock imposed upon them, the Hoyas held the ball for nearly four minutes until sophomore attacker Jake Carraway scooped up a loose ball, sliced through the center of the Pioneers’ defense and netted his only goal of the game.
With a 3-1 score in favor of Georgetown at halftime, Denver tried to close the gap. Denver sophomore attacker Ethan Walker contributed two impressive third-quarter goals, one on a backhand shot and the other from a seemingly impossible angle. Each goal, however, was followed by a Georgetown goal in response, and the game entered the fourth quarter with the scoreboard reading 5-3 in favor of Georgetown.
In the fourth quarter, the Georgetown defense held strong in the face of long Denver possessions, but it proved unable to prevent a comeback. Denver’s senior faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste, a three-time Tewaarton Award Nominee and 2017 finalist , got the ball off the opening faceoff and took it down the field to score, bringing the game within one. Baptiste went 12-15 on faceoffs in the game..
Two more Denver goals followed Baptiste’s while Georgetown’s offense struggled with turnovers and was unable to capitalize on any of its possessions. In a final defensive stand, down 6-5 with under a minute left, Marrocco stepped out of net and forced a turnover to get the ball back with 0:24 remaining. A Pioneers penalty soon followed, giving the Hoyas a one-man advantage with 0:08 on the clock in their offensive zone. The offense, however, was unable to get a quality shot on net, ensuring a Denver victory.
The game was notable for outstanding defensive performances from both squads. Disciplined defense and patience from both offenses led to 13 shot clock warnings, and Denver’s six goals represented its lowest scoring total in over a decade.
Leading the Hoyas’ defense were senior midfielder Greg Galligan and freshman defender Gibson Smith, who both deftly handled an onslaught of dodges from the Pioneers. Senior goalkeeper Nick Marrocco contributed nine saves in net, helped by solid team defense that forced Denver to settle for outside shots for much of the game.
On the offensive end, Berge led the team in scoring with three goals and an assist. Sophomore midfielder Massimo Bucci had two assists and junior midfielder Lucas Wittenberg had a goal and an assist.
Junior attacker Daniel Bucaro and Carraway, both of whom usually make up a large part of the Hoyas offensive attack, found themselves smothered by Pioneers defenders. The Denver defense’s aggression elicited constant angry calls from the sideline and the stands, where those watching demanded the referees call a penalty. The officials, however, allowed the game to remain physical throughout and did not call any penalties until 1:46 remained in the final quarter.
With their third straight loss, the Hoyas are entering the final stretch of their season with a team struggling to regularly play up to the potential it demonstrated earlier in the year.
Warne, however, knows they will have to find consistency to make a run into May.
“When you get to the month of April, you really have to figure out who you are, how you’re going to play,” Warne said. “You’ve got to figure out what you do best, things you can work on, and then tweak those things a little bit and ride the wave of what you do really well.”
Georgetown’s first home loss, albeit against a powerhouse program, ensures it will remain unranked in national polls. The Hoyas will look to right their course, when they continue Big East play against Providence on Saturday at Cooper Field.