The Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (4-7, 1-3 Big East) will be on the road this weekend for a nonconference game against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (9-3, 5-2 Patriot League) in the second annual Relentless Cup, a fundraising event benefiting the HEADstrong Foundation’s fight against blood cancer.
Conference play has been in full swing for the past three weeks, and the Hoyas have faced off against several tough opponents. After falling to Big East rivals St. John’s, Villanova and No. 8 Denver, Georgetown finally notched its first conference win against the Providence Friars last Saturday to break its four-game losing streak.
The Hoyas held the Friars scoreless in the second and third quarters of the game while simultaneously going on a seven-goal run to take a 9-2 lead going into the fourth quarter. Redshirt senior defender and co-captain Tyler Knarr was largely responsible for this offensive success. He won 16-of-20 faceoffs, moving him into second place for career faceoff wins with 413. For his performance he was named to the Big East Men’s Lacrosse Weekly Honor Roll for the fourth time this season.
Although it seemed Georgetown would cruise to an easy victory, Providence fought back and threatened to pull off the improbable comeback. After going on an unanswered six-goal run, Providence was only trailing by one in the final minute of play. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Jake Haley made several crucial saves in order to stave off the Friars, and senior attack Jeff Fountain scored in the final seconds of the game to make the final score 10-8.
Providence’s attack put increased pressure on Georgetown’s defense in the fourth quarter during clear attempts. Georgetown’s inability to adequately respond to this pressure allowed Providence to gain several more scoring opportunities and was a factor in the comeback.
Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Warne recognized that aggressive riding situations caused problems during the game and is working to address these issues in practice this week.
“You can talk through it and walk through it as much as you can, but they need to see it live,” Warne said. “They need to see different situations and different scenarios where [those challenges] could come up. If they see them during practice, then they’ll be able to recognize them during the game and have success.”
This preparation will be crucial for the game against Lehigh, as capitalizing on clears may still remain as an obstacle in the upcoming game. However, Warne says that as a non-conference opponent, Lehigh will have a style of play that differs from some of the rivals that Georgetown has faced recently, which will provide unique challenges.
“I think they’re extremely aggressive,” Warne said. “They do a great job in the riding game. … [In addition], they’ll try to dictate the tempo of the game, starting from the defensive end, and then they’ll let their offense [take it from there].”
The Mountain Hawks have a particularly threatening defense; so far, they have held their opponents to an average of 6.5 goals per game. Furthermore, they have outshot their opponents at an average of 35.7 to 27.3 shots per game. Sophomore defender Tripp Telesco is a defensive leader for Lehigh, and so far during the season he has recorded 28 caused turnovers, leading the rest of the team by 11.
Georgetown has improved in the past few games at working off-ball offensive players to create scoring opportunities, which will help to counteract Lehigh’s defense. In particular, freshman attack Peter Conley has impressed with a flexible and creative offensive style and currently leads the team with 32 points. After being shut out against Denver, Conley returned in the game against Providence with a hat trick.
“He’s a freshman, so he learned today, he learned from last week’s experience, he’ll learn from this week’s experience and he’ll get better next week against Lehigh,” Warne said.
Another important factor in capitalizing on offensive possessions and minimizing the Mountain Hawks defense’s opportunities to transition the ball will be identifying and finishing on quality shot attempts. This is especially important considering Lehigh’s ability to restrict its opponents’ offensive movement.
“I think that if we’re unselfish and get good shots [we’ll be successful],” Warne said. “I think we’re getting really good shots at good spots, but we just have to finish them.”
Warne stressed that in the end, however, it all comes down to hard work and fundamentals.
“We’ll do something every day this week to prepare our guys for Saturday night,” Warne said. “We’ll keep working on shooting and preaching the little things, and those guys are staying after and doing some extra work and that’ll pay off — and hopefully it does on Saturday night.”