Having recorded two upsets against ranked opponents so far this season, the No. 13 Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (8-4, 3-1 Big East) has the opportunity to earn a third.
Wins over then-No. 14 Loyola Maryland (7-6, 5-2 Patriot League) and then-No. 9 Marquette (10-3, 3-1 Big East) in late March propelled Georgetown into the national polls for the first time since 2013, ranking No. 14. Since then, Georgetown has remained in the top 20, climbing up to No. 13 this past week after dominant performances in wins over Providence (4-8, 0-3 Big East) and Villanova (5-6, 0-3 Big East).
Georgetown’s recent nationally recognized success makes it well positioned for an out-of-conference game against No. 10 Virginia (8-4, 0-4 ACC) on Saturday in the teams’ first meeting since 2006.
Though Georgetown is still working to improve certain areas of its game, Head Coach Kevin Warne believes that the team’s strong performance in its victory over Villanova last Saturday will give the team confidence against Virginia.
“Obviously we played very efficiently offensively [against Villanova] — I thought we did a really good job,” Warne said. “Hopefully the guys have some confidence and feel good about the game plan going in, so we’ll be able to execute that on Saturday against Virginia. We have some things we need to work on as well: We’ll tighten up our defense and some of the faceoff aspects at the middle of the field.”
The Hoyas have struggled at the faceoff X recently, coming up with just 13-of-75 faceoffs in their past three games. This is due in part to injuries; faceoff specialist and graduate student midfielder Gabriel Mendola has seen limited action in recent weeks while he recuperates from the repercussions of physical play at the X. But Warne looks at the issue from a three-on-three perspective instead of one-on-one.
“I think the first thing … is trying to get guys healthy,” Warne said. “The second part is making sure that we compete on the ground, especially with the wings. I think our wing play has to improve — I think the guys understand that, and they’re willing to put in effort and do the things they have to so we can have some more success.”
Senior attack and co-captain Reilly O’Connor attributes problems at the faceoff X to a broader trend: Georgetown’s lack of consistency on game day.
“I think we need to be able to put a full 60 minutes together,” O’Connor said. “I don’t think we’ve done that yet this year, so there’s [many] areas that we can focus on, from defense to faceoffs to offense.”
Virginia will take the field Saturday looking to break a two-game losing streak to No. 2 North Carolina (12-1, 3-0 ACC) and No. 6 Duke (8-4, 1-3 ACC). Like Georgetown, Virginia has faced its fair share of ranked competition this season. In conference play alone, Virginia has faced off against four teams currently ranked in the top 10: No. 4 Syracuse (9-2, 2-2 ACC), No. 1 Notre Dame (8-1, 3-0 ACC), North Carolina and Duke.
Though the Cavaliers are winless so far this season in the ACC, Warne knows that the Hoyas have their work cut out for them.
“[Virginia is] always good,” Warne said. “It’s a perennial NCAA team. They’ve won national championships. … We just need to get better because we have different goals as we move forward, but the next game is a great opportunity for our guys to play an ACC team that will, more likely than not, be in the playoffs, so we’re looking forward to it.”
After Saturday’s game, Georgetown has only one regular season game left, against St. John’s (3-9, 1-2 Big East), before heading to the Big East tournament. Warne says at this point during the season, Georgetown is keeping its game-day goals relatively simple.
“As we get later into the season, I think we really want to stress the fundamentals,” Warne said. “I think that’s been a big thing for us, just making sure we do all the right things. We have to stay true to what we do and who we are, and I think we’re doing that now. We’re just making sure that we’re fine-tuning everything and making sure the guys understand the tempo and urgency of this time.”
Looking ahead, the team has some larger ambitions.
“For us, it’s all about winning,” O’Connor said. “Right now, we’re looking at finishing up the Big East, winning the Big East Championship, and making it to the NCAA tournament. … just going as far as we can and riding this thing out and finish as best we can.”
Opening faceoff against Virginia is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va.
Hoya Staff Writer Tyler Park contributed to reporting.