Continuing his role as a key offensive player, senior attack Reilly O’Connor matched his career high of five goals as he led the No. 13 Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (8-4, 3-1 Big East) to a 19-7 victory over conference rival Villanova (5-6, 0-3 Big East).
O’Connor added one assist to his effort to tally a game-high six points. He was named the Big East Men’s Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance.
“Reilly O’Connor today was awesome,” Head Coach Kevin Warne said. “[But] across the board, [the team just had] a really good effort. We have a bunch of guys getting a bunch of goals, and I think it’s pick your poison with our team on the offensive end.”
Georgetown built its lead with a balanced offensive effort: eight different Hoyas scored and six had assists in the victory. Senior attack Bo Stafford followed O’Connor’s lead and added two goals and four assists in the effort.
The Hoyas were as efficient on offense as they were unselfish; sharp passing and impressive feeds allowed Georgetown to record 17 goals on 39 shots.
“I thought our guys played really hard today,” Warne said. “I thought we played really efficiently offensively — I think we put a lot of pressure on their defense, which allowed us to grab a big lead.”
The win at the MultiSport Facility clinched a spot for Georgetown in the upcoming Big East tournament.
O’Connor said that the Hoyas were successful in executing their game plan against the Wildcats, efforts in practice were also a major factor in the victory.
“I thought it was a great week of practice,” O’Connor said. “I think what we’ve been doing all year is really starting to pay off. We’re 8-4 now, and we’re where we want to be in the Big East, so we’re just going to try to keep it going.”
With conference play winding down and pressure mounting to reach the postseason, Warne knew that Villanova would take the field with a sense of urgency and look to rebound from its two previous conference losses.
“We talked about that all week, that this was a team that was winless in the Big East, and we knew that they would have to win or give a great effort to put themselves in position for postseason play,” Warne said. “We just took care of what we needed to take care of, and I’m really proud of the guys today.”
Though the Hoyas capitalized on their offensive opportunities, they struggled to create additional possessions at the faceoff X. Georgetown has struggled at the X during the past several games, coming up with only two faceoffs against Denver on March 28. The same inefficiency was noticeable during Saturday’s game, when Georgetown won 5-of-28 faceoffs among three players at the X.
“We got beat up at the faceoff X, and I’ve never really seen that before, where we score 17 goals and we [win] five faceoffs at the X,” Warne said. “So we’ve got to fix that as we roll into the end of the year.”
Georgetown’s defense helped to make up for the possessions lost at the faceoff X with clears and turnovers; Villanova committed 17 turnovers in the game, 11 of which were forced by Georgetown players.
Leading the defensive effort for the Hoyas was freshman goalkeeper Nick Marrocco, who turned in a 20-save performance against the Wildcats.
Marrocco earned the USILA National Defensive Player of the Week and Big East Defensive Player of the Week awards for the week of March 30 after making 18 saves against Providence last Saturday.
Overall, Marrocco gives his teammates a lot of the credit.
“Our defense has helped me a lot with [earning these honors], so … I have to give them a lot of credit,” Marrocco said. “I think that every game we’re improving our defense, and lately we’ve been playing awesome, so we’re trying to carry that into the Big East tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament.”
The victory marked the first time that Georgetown has defeated Villanova since 2011 and the team’s first playoff berth since 2013. Coupled with the Alumni Day theme for the lacrosse program during Saturday’s game, former Georgetown players and this year’s seniors had much to celebrate.
“You can hear the support,” O’Connor said of the cheering coming from the stands. “We definitely felt that today and used that as motivation for us.”
Georgetown’s next match is an out-of-conference game against No. 7 Virginia (8-4, 0-3 ACC) on Saturday, April 18. The game against Virginia is Georgetown’s last before it concludes Big East play against St. John’s (3-9, 1-2 Big East) on April 25.