Georgetown men’s lacrosse won its third straight Big East Championship, securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in the process with a 10-9 victory over Denver on Saturday.
Georgetown (12-2, 9-1 Big East) started the game strong, opening up a 2-0 lead in less than three minutes off goals from junior midfielder Declan McDermott and junior attackman Dylan Watson. Yet Denver (12-4, 9-1 Big East) managed to score two goals of its own to tie the game before the quarter ended.
In the first quarter, the Denver Pioneers dominated on the stat sheet, forcing five turnovers to Georgetown’s two and getting seven shots on goal compared to Georgetown’s three. But thanks to the stellar play from Georgetown senior goalkeeper Owen McElroy, who has been key to the Hoyas’ success all season, the game was tied at the end of the first quarter. McElroy leads the nation in save percentage and ranks second in goals against average. In the game against Denver, McElroy racked up 15 saves on 24 shots on goal, many of which came from point-blank range.
After Denver took a 3-2 lead to start the second quarter, the Hoyas responded with two goals of their own: Graduate student attackman Nicky Petkevich and first-year midfielder Dylan Hess buried shots to give Georgetown a 4-3 lead. Yet Denver scored three unanswered goals to end the half, taking a 6-4 lead at halftime. With time expiring, the Pioneers got one last chance to score right in front of the net, but McElroy stuffed Denver midfielder Danny Logan to keep the difference at two.
Denver scored once again to start the third quarter, taking a 7-4 lead, the largest for either team all game. Yet the Hoyas were undeterred. Graduate student attackman Jake Carraway and Watson both scored to pull back within one, but Denver scored once more before the quarter ended, taking an 8-6 lead into the final period.
After the third quarter, the game was fairly even, with the main factor separating the teams being Denver’s lead in faceoffs and ability to force extra turnovers on Georgetown clear attempts. The Hoyas needed to shore up their turnovers in the final quarter, and they did.
While Denver was even more dominant on faceoffs in the fourth, winning five of six, the Hoyas took over in every other area. Georgetown scored three unanswered goals to take a 9-8 lead, with Petkevich, McDermott and Hess all scoring their second goals of the game. McElroy continued to shine, making five saves in the quarter. After going down by a goal, star Denver attackman Ethan Walker scored with 6:39 to go to tie the game; the Pioneers would not score again.
With under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Hess raced down the length of the field and launched the ball into the back of the net to put No. 8 Georgetown up by one — but Hoyas’ head coach Kevin Warne called a timeout seconds before the shot, negating the goal. Thankfully, Hess bailed his coach out seconds after the timeout, capitalizing off a pass from first-year attackman TJ Haley to give Georgetown a 10-9 lead.
This is the third straight Big East Championship win for the Hoyas, each of which has been clinched in a game against Denver. The championship game marked the Hoyas’ second consecutive win against the Pioneers this season. Georgetown secured an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, an impressive streak after the Hoyas failed to make the tournament the previous 10 years.
Georgetown’s season will continue in the NCAA Tournament, with the Hoyas set to face off against Syracuse on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT.