STANLEY DAI/THE HOYA Graduate student midfielder Gabriel Mendola has won 27 of 47 faceoffs so far this season, including 12 of 18 against Towson.
Graduate student midfielder Gabriel Mendola has won 27 of 47 faceoffs so far this season, including 12 of 18 against Towson.

day when it takes on Hofstra (1-2) at MultiSport Facility.

The Hoyas’ inability to establish the pace from the opening whistle doomed them in their first two games. Georgetown was down 4-1 at the end of the first quarter against Notre Dame (2-0) on Feb. 14, and it was at the bottom of a 6-0 hole at the end of the first quarter against Towson (2-1) on Feb. 22.

Although the Hoyas rallied in each game to overcome the large deficits and fought back to regain control, they were unable to seal a victory in either case.

“It’s always tough coming off two losses like that, especially having such high hopes coming into the season,” senior midfielder and co-captain Charlie McCormick said. “This past week … we’ve been doing everything very positively, and everybody has been working together at all levels of the game.”

Looking ahead, the Hoyas are placing more of an emphasis on setting the tempo.

“We felt like we could have came out and played a lot faster and quicker than we did,” senior defender Bryson Greene said. “But as far as practice is going this week, it’s been pretty positive. Defensively, we’ve been focusing on communicating more and getting out to the ball quicker and having better approaches on the men we’re covering.”

By designing practices this week around improving poise and strong focus, Head Coach Kevin Warne believes the team will see great improvements in setting an early pace in its games.

“We’re trying to set the tempo so we come out at practice a little bit faster,” Warne said. “I think that’s been a concern for the coaching staff. Our first two games just didn’t get off to a quick start … we’re starting some tempo drills, so that’s helping us carry that momentum throughout practice.”

Building quick momentum starts at the faceoffs — graduate student midfielder Gabriel Mendola, the faceoff-specialist on the team this year, is a key component in generating offense.

“He’s one of our hardest workers,” Warne said. “He does everything that he needs to do to be really successful at that position. And it’s a unique position to be in — [being] the faceoff guy is very technical, yet you’ve got to have that fighter mentality, and I think he has that.”

With the NCAA rule changes that restructure the faceoff into a three-on-three matchup, Mendola’s fighter mentality needs to extend to the players on the wings that are battling alongside him for possession. The new faceoff setup, which requires significant effort and speed, factors significantly into the overall dynamic and progression of the game.

“At the end of the day, when you play the wings and the faceoff game is a three-on-three game, it’s about effort and heart going after the ground ball … a lot of that is about what’s inside your chest,” Warne said.

So far this season, Mendola has won 27 of 47 faceoff attempts. Against Towson, Mendola won 12 of 18 at the faceoff X, and submitted a particularly strong performance in the second half when his 10 of 11 faceoff wins slowed Towson’s early momentum.

Saturday’s matchup against Hofstra will be a battle for possession. The Pride also boast an impressive 48-76 cumulative faceoff record this season. Sophomore midfielder Kris Clarke, who has taken all but seven faceoffs for the Pride, will square up against Mendola during the game.

The Colonial Athletic Association team will be coming into Saturday’s game fresh off of its first win of the season, in which Hofstra shut out Manhattan (0-4) in an 18-0 contest. The Pride went 20-22 at the faceoff X and outshot the Jaspers 54-13.
Warne knows that Hofstra will have the same determination and athleticism that Towson brought to the field last weekend and will make Georgetown work hard on both offense and defense.

“Hofstra is very similar to Towson — they’re a scrappy bunch, and they have some really talented kids at both ends of the field,” Warne said. “They face off really well, and they’re scoring at an unbelievable rate right now, so we know we have a huge challenge to get ready for the Pride.”

Last year, Georgetown dropped a 9-8 overtime comeback attempt to Hofstra. At this point in the season Georgetown is more preoccupied with its own team goals than its opponent, but Saturday is still a chance at redemption for a tough 2014 loss.

“We’re looking forward to having those guys down here,” Warne said. “And not that we’re harping on it at all, but I don’t think we’ve forgotten about last year.”

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