The Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (2-10, 1-3 Big East) will honor its seniors Saturday before a contest with perennial regional powerhouse, the University of Virginia (6-7, 0-4 ACC).
The Hoyas are looking to rebound after their 16-4 loss to the Villanova Wildcats (7-4, 1-2 Big East) last weekend, in which they played out an even first half before losing the possession battle in the second half and getting shut out on the offensive end.
Senior midfielder and co-captain Corey Parke said moving on and taking lessons from the loss is key to understanding some of the flaws the team can address.
“It’s similar to any other game where you don’t come out on top you just look back, you look at what you did wrong and try to fix it. [Head] Coach [Kevin Warne] always says you either win or you learn, so we’re trying to learn everything we can from that loss and fix what we can,” Parke said.
The Hoyas move on to face a Cavalier squad that is coming off a tough stretch with back-to-back losses to the No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5, 1-1 ACC) and No. 16 Duke Blue Devils (8-6, 2-2 ACC). But the Cavaliers, who have filtered in and out of the top 20 rankings this season, are led by a decorated head coach in Dom Starsia and senior attack James Pannell, the younger brother of the former Cornell great and current New York Lizards attack Rob Pannell. James Pannell leads Virginia on offense and is coming in to the game as a top-50 goal scorer nationwide netting 26 goals on the year.
While Virginia is no slacker on either side of the ball, where it shines is in key effort statistics such as ground balls, ranking second in the nation by picking up 36.7 ground balls per game. In comparison, Georgetown averages 22.25 ground balls per game.
Warne addressed the need for hustle against a competitive and persistent UVA squad. He said the team will be focusing on mentality throughout the game and especially in ground balls.
“Ground balls isn’t really a skill, it’s a mindset. When you go get the ball, you got to go get the ball. We got to know that we can’t give up on it, and if you’re chasing a ball we have to understand that they have a mindset of, we want to pick it up as well. So it’ll be a battle every time the ball is on the ground,” Warne said.
This will be the second matchup in a recently renewed rivalry between the Hoyas and the Cavaliers. The teams took a hiatus in competition after a 2006 showdown in the NCAA quarterfinals that Virginia won en route to a national championship and undefeated season.
In its regular-season matchup last year, the first since 2006, Virginia was able to fight back against an early Georgetown lead and wrestle away a victory with a score of 12-9.
“Certainly, I know for a lot of the local kids they’ve been watching teams like Georgetown, Villanova and Virginia play since they were children. So it’s definitely a big game, we’re excited, and obviously a chance to play a team that has won a few national championships is something we’re all looking forward to. It’s a great opportunity,” Parke said.
For Senior Night, Georgetown will honor four graduating players: Parke, defender Curt Brooks, graduate student midfielder Joe Bucci, and defender Nic Mahaney.
Parke said the program has been a focal point of the seniors’ college careers and has shaped their Georgetown experience.
“[Lacrosse has] been everything. From the second I got here until the second I leave, it’s been my main priority and something I spend almost all my time thinking about. … It’s going to be sad to let go of a game I’ve played, really since I could walk, but I’m excited for the game. I couldn’t ask for a better game to play on Senior Night,” Parke said.
Warne emphasized the importance of placing the focus of the game on Georgetown rather than its opponent.
“We really want to make [Senior Night] special for those guys. Hopefully there will be a great crowd on a Saturday night and they’ll have a great atmosphere to play their last game on the field [at home]. We’ll take that energy, and as we’ve told the guys all week, do a little extra for those four guys because they’ve done a lot for you for the four years that they’ve been here,” Warne said. “They’ve really cemented themselves here in a lot of ways, for the better of Georgetown lacrosse. So Saturday will be a great way to repay them.”
The Hoyas host the Cavaliers at Cooper Field this Saturday. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. with the Senior Night ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. before the start of the game. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.