For the second consecutive season, the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team has won the Big East tournament. Following a 13-12 first-round victory over Providence, Georgetown upset top-seeded Denver 12-9 in a rematch of last year’s conference championship game. The win gave the Hoyas an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, where they fell 19-16 to No. 5 Yale in the opening round last weekend.
The Providence Friars (7-9, 3-2 Big East) proved to be a tough opponent in the Hoyas’ (13-5, 3-2 Big East) first game of the Big East tournament. Georgetown jumped out to a quick two-goal lead in the first four minutes, but Providence responded with five consecutive goals of its own. Junior attack Jake Carraway scored the final goal of the quarter, however, pulling the Hoyas within two at the end of the first.
Providence extended its lead to four over Georgetown by the start of the second, but a string of goals from Carraway, senior midfielder Lucas Wittenberg and senior attack Austin McDonald pulled Georgetown within one. After a Providence man-up goal, though, the scoreboard read 8-6 in favor of the Friars entering halftime.
At halftime, Head Coach Kevin Warne opted to switch out sophomore goalie Owen McElroy, who had started the entire season, for freshman goalie Chris Brandau.
After the half, the Hoyas were able to take their first lead since the first quarter with another three-goal run. The Friars responded, however, with three unanswered in the final seven minutes of the frame, giving them a three-point lead as they entered the final quarter.
The Hoyas wasted no time erasing this deficit, tying the game with three consecutive goals in the first six minutes of the quarter. Roughly two minutes later, freshman midfielder Declan McDermott found the back of the net for the Hoyas, scoring what would be the game-winning goal. After shutting out Providence for the entire fourth quarter, Georgetown secured a 13-12 victory.
Wittenberg had a stellar performance in the first round, scoring a single goal while also adding eight assists, a record for Denver’s Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. Carraway added a hat trick, while McDermott had two assists along with his game-winner.
Brandau finished with six saves and the win in cage, while senior midfielder Patrick Aslanian and sophomore defender Joe LiCalzi each caused three turnovers.
The Hoyas faced off against the Denver Pioneers two days later in the championship game of the Big East tournament. After trading goals to start the first quarter, the Hoyas took command of the game and netted five consecutive goals. Denver managed to get a final goal in before the period ended with a score of 6-2 in favor of Georgetown.
The high-scoring first quarter was followed by a defensive struggle in the second quarter: Denver scored five minutes in to pull within three goals, but a response from Wittenberg gave Georgetown a 7-3 lead, which it would take into halftime.
Denver made its run at the start of the third, scoring three unanswered to come within one. This effort was, however, the closest the Pioneers would come to catching the Hoyas. Georgetown put together a three-goal run to make the score 10-6 with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the teams traded goals after that. When the final buzzer sounded, the Hoyas had a 12-9 victory and another Big East championship.
Senior attack Dan Bucaro led the Hoya offense with four goals and an assist, while Carraway added two scores and two helpers. Both attacks were named to the all-tournament team, along with Brandau, who had 15 saves in the final, and sophomore defender Gibson Smith.
Wittenberg also had two goals and two assists. For this performance, along with his record-breaking semifinal game against Providence, the senior was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
With this win, Hoyas have tied the program’s record for wins, with 13.
Following the Big East championship, Georgetown entered the first round of the NCAA tournament, where it drew a tough matchup against Yale, the defending champion.
The Hoyas got off to a rocky start, falling behind 7-0 in the game’s first seven minutes. A goal from freshman attack Dylan Watson and another two from Bucaro helped Georgetown stay competitive, but Yale ended the quarter with a 9-3 lead.
In the second quarter, the Hoyas were able to prevent a repeat of the previous frame, but they did little to better their situation. Bucaro found the back of the net twice, and Carraway scored his first of the game, but Yale’s three goals in the quarter maintained its six-goal lead entering halftime.
The Hoyas ripped off three unanswered goals at the start of the third, led by a pair from Carraway. Yale scored two more, but Bucaro and Carraway each found the net once before the end of the quarter. Georgetown entered the fourth quarter down 14-11.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Yale appeared to put the game away, scoring five unanswered goals in as many minutes. Just a minute later, however, Bucaro scored his sixth of the day, starting what looked to be a potential comeback. McDonald scored minutes later, and Clark after him, pulling Georgetown back within five. Bucaro added two more in the game’s final two minutes, but the Hoyas ran out of time. Despite ending the quarter with five consecutive goals, Georgetown fell 19-6, and Yale advanced.
Bucaro ended his illustrious career on the Hilltop with an impressive performance, scoring eight goals and adding a helper. His season total of 61 goals is a program record. Carraway, the other half of the twin engines that have driven the Georgetown offense all season, posted four scores and an assist, while Clark also added two goals.
Defensively, Smith collected 10 ground balls and caused five turnovers. With 106 total ground balls on the season, he now holds the Georgetown record for ground balls by a non-faceoff specialist.
Last season, the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team won the Big East championship and made it to the NCAA tournament, both for the first time in over a decade. Despite losing some key pieces, the squad found the exact same result this year with an even better record.
This senior class turned a two-win team their freshman year into a repeat conference champion. This year marks the last year for Bucaro, who will undoubtedly be remembered as an all-time Hoya great. Wittenberg, the team’s third leading scorer this year, and Aslanian, one of the country’s premier short-stick defensive midfielders, will also graduate, along with nine other seniors.
Despite these losses, the Hoyas’ star still may be rising. The squad will return seven of its 10 starters, including Carraway, this season’s top scorer, and the entire defensive lineup, who could lead the charge for a conference championship three-peat and another NCAA tournament run next spring.