Chasing consecutive victories for only the second time this season, the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (4-6, 1-1 Big East) was outshined by Villanova (3-6, 2-0 Big East) Wednesday night 8-6 under the bright lights of MultiSportFacility.
The Hoyas defended resolutely throughout the contest and built a three-goal lead in the third quarter, but the Wildcats closed the game on a 6-1 scoring run to escape with the victory. A poor shot differential and the inability to sustain lengthy possessions cost the Blue and Gray, who ultimately failed to capitalize on opportunities in the ever-crucial final quarter.
“I think you saw Villanova’s athleticism take over,” Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Warne said afterward. “They got the ball on the ground, and we kind of fell into their hands. We did have a couple of open looks, but I don’t know if we shot the ball with authority or as hard as I would like us to.”
Georgetown got off to a strong start, as three different Hoyas found the back of the net in the first quarter to build an early 3-1 advantage. Despite a 21-13 deficit in shots and a 1-8 record on faceoffs, the Blue and Gray held a 4-2 lead at the break after senior attack Travis Comeau’s second goal of the game with 2:26 remaining in the half.
Sophomore attack Reilly O’Connor, fresh off his second mention of the season in the Big East’s weekly honor roll, stretched the host’s lead to 5-2 at the 10:16 mark of the third quarter, but Georgetown’s fortunes soon faded. Villanova responded with a quick strike just 36 seconds later, cutting the deficit to 5-4 less than a minute thereafter on an effort by standout freshman midfielder John Kluh.
The visitors leveled the score before O’Connor gave the Hoyas their last lead at 6-5 with 2:10 remaining in the quarter. Kluh — who recorded a hat trick and added an assist on the night — took over from there, and the Georgetown offense sputtered down the stretch as Villanova took the lead for good with just under nine minutes remaining.
“He’s been their most consistent and one of their best offensive players, especially in the past couple weeks,” Warne said of Kluh. “We wanted to put a short-stick on him, and I’m not sure we slid well. He had a couple looks from 10 yards out, and he’s going to bury those. We were a little slow to go there, and we’ll have to re-evaluate why.”
Georgetown had plenty of opportunities to even the scoring but was plagued by inopportune turnovers and less-than-lethal shooting down the stretch. O’Connor nearly caught Villanova out in a breakaway transition following a turnover, but his shot from the left of the goal found the stick of sophomore goalkeeper Reed Carlson at the 4:32 mark.
“Our lack of depth hurts a little bit — I think we got a little tired, and our possessions were a lot quicker than theirs,” Warne said. “They might have played offense for a minute and a half, but our possessions were about 30 seconds. There’s no shot clock right away, so that kind of hurt us in the end.”
It was an uncharacteristic off-night for faceoff specialist junior defender Tyler Knarr, who had been dominant in recent games for the Blue and Gray. This time it was Villanova’s Thomas Croonquist who won the overall faceoff advantage, helping the Wildcats emerge with possession on 10-of-17 attempts.
Despite the Hoyas’ offensive futility down the stretch, Warne was pleased with his team’s effort, particularly that of redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Jake Haley, who finished with 13 saves. Georgetown will next travel to the Empire State for a weekend matchup with No. 14 St. John’s.
“I thought the guys played hard overall, Jake played great and I thought our defense really came together,” Warne said. “We did some of the right things, so I was happy to see them getting better, but again we’ve got to get ready for three days from now.”
The opening faceoff in the matchup with the Red Storm is set for 2 p.m. Saturday in Bethpage, N.Y.