Despite a slow and frustrating start, where the Georgetown Hoyas trailed by as much as four goals, a strong second-half defensive performance captained by standout graduate defenseman Will Bowen gave the Hoyas a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the men’s lacrosse home-field opener.
Down by two goals with 50 seconds remaining, Georgetown graduate attackman Tucker Dordevic rifled a blistering shot that brought the Hoyas (0-2) back within one of the No. 11 University of Pennsylvania (1-0), firing up a packed crowd at Cooper Field. But the Hoyas hit their stride too late, ultimately falling 9-7 to the tough and coordinated Quakers on Feb. 18.
Two games into the year, a team that had all the makings of a juggernaut in the pre-season is struggling, suffering back-to-back upset losses after falling 12-13 against Johns Hopkins and then to Penn.
“We’ve played two great opponents, and that’s what we’re looking for here,” Bowen said in a post-practice interview with The Hoya. “Our team’s mindset and our pulse is about the day; not the past, not the end of the season, but approaching the day at hand. We’re here to win games, that’s for sure, but keeping our focus on the present, on each day and each task individually, has helped us learn.”
Georgetown entered the year as a consensus top-3 Division 1 team in pre-season polls, returning some of the top players in the nation. Two-time All-American senior midfielder Graham Bundy Jr., who broke the program record for most points scored by a midfielder last season, is the Hoyas’ top returning offensive player. He’s already scored six points on the season, including a goal and assist against Penn.
Bowen, an experienced graduate student and two-time First Team All-American, is considered to be one of the best — if not the best — defensemen at the collegiate level. He certainly lived up to his reputation against the Quakers, causing a whopping three turnovers including a crucial, goal-saving strip against renowned Penn midfielder Sam Handley.
Both Bowen and Bundy Jr. will no doubt be early selections into Paul Rabil’s Premier Lacrosse League, where they will play alongside legendary Georgetown grads such as Jake Carraway (MSB ’20, GRD ’21), Dan Bucaro (CAS ’19) and Owen McElroy (MSB ’21, GRD ’22), among others.
This year, multiple high-level transfers from other programs have bolstered an already talented roster.
Dordevic was a 2022 nominee for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award, which recognizes the best college lacrosse players, and had an illustrious career at powerhouse Syracuse before transferring to the Hilltop. His arrival generated considerable buzz from the lacrosse community, which has been validated by his strong offensive play. He leads the team offensively with 8 points on the season, scoring a hat trick against Penn.
Dordevic was joined by all-star graduate attackman Brian Minicus, a four-year starter at Colgate who is currently tied for second in points on the team after a crucial four-point performance against the Quakers. Additionally, graduate midfielders Jacob Kelly and Nicky Solomon, both coming off of stellar careers at University of North Carolina, have stepped into immediate contributing roles on offense.
The Hoyas have now dropped outside of the top 10 in both the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association and USA Lacrosse rankings, but the team is not discouraged.
“We’ve had five new guys come in, and on any team adding a class of five new guys in addition to the freshmen is a dynamic you have to work through,” Bowen said. “You have to be pretty strategic, but our coaching staff and our seniors have done a great job with that.”
The Hoyas look ahead toward another home-field, powerhouse matchup against the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0) on Feb. 25 at 12 p.m., a must-win game for the Hoyas if they are to turn their struggling start to the season around.
“Going into this weekend there are definitely some slight ‘x and o’ tweaks, but all of our focus is really internal,” Bowen said. “We will continue to become confident in who we are and develop our identity, and that’s just something that’s got to happen organically, and I’m looking forward to it.”
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