Without the possibility of an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, Georgetown knows it can take nothing for granted in the final weeks of the season. Saturday, the No. 7 Hoyas showed that they are playing well at the right time as they rolled to a 14-7 victory over ECAC rival Rutgers before a crowd of 682 on a soggy North Kehoe Field.
Georgetown improved to 9-3 overall and 4-1 in the ECAC while Rutgers lost its third straight, falling to 4-8 overall and 1-4 in the ECAC.
“Overall, we haven’t been that productive offensively, so to score 14 goals, we feel pretty good about that,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Urick said. “We told our guys that we still have to play our way in. After the UMass game [a 13-12 loss], the goal for this team was to win 10 games, and we said you can’t win 10 unless you win the ninth one.”
Following last week’s setback at No. 8 UMass, victories in Georgetown’s final two games were critical to avoid falling onto the tournament bubble. The Hoyas are now halfway there, and a victory in the regular-season finale next week against Penn State should lock up both a bid for the ninth-straight season and the first-round home game in the tournament.
Saturday was senior day, and senior captain Nick Miaritis came up big. The midfielder matched a career-high with four goals. Junior midfielder Pete Cannon added three goals and an assist for the Hoyas.
The undermanned Scarlet Knights were able to keep the game competitive throughout the first half. The teams traded pairs of goals throughout the first 30 minutes. Miaritis and junior attack Sean Denihan put the Hoyas up 2-0 with a pair of goals in the first four minutes, but the Scarlet Knights answered back with a pair of their own to tie the game at the 6:09 mark of the first quarter. The trend continued in the second quarter as Georgetown built a 4-2 lead and Rutgers answered back to tie the game at 4-4 with a minute and a half to go in the half.
It looked like the teams would enter the locker room tied until another senior day honoree, midfielder Brice Queener, found the back of the net with just eight seconds to play. It was fitting that Queener – the only member of his class to play in every game since the start of the 2002 season – scored the goal that would put the Hoyas ahead for good on senior day.
The Hoyas carried the momentum from Queener’s goal into the second half as the Scarlet Knights began to crack under the pressure of the Hoyas’ depth. Miaritis got things going with a goal in the opening minute, and Cannon followed seven minutes later to give Georgetown its largest lead of the game thus far at 7-4.
After a Rutgers goal cut the lead to 7-5, the Hoyas reeled off six unanswered through an 11 minute stretch spanning the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to take a 13-5 lead and all but put the game away for good.
“We knew that they don’t run that many guys,” iaritis said. “Compared to our team where we’re running three lines of midfield, five defensemen, a few attackmen, we knew that toward the end of the game, our legs were going to be with us. They played real strong the first three quarters of the game – our hats off to them – but we kept running, and that’s why coach works us like he does.”
Georgetown senior goalie Rich D’Andrea had a solid day in the net, coming up with 10 saves while yielding seven goals, two of which came in the final five minutes after the Hoyas had built an insurmountable lead.
Rutgers’ All-American goalie, junior Greg Havalchak, had a tough day under a barrage of 50 Hoya shots, letting in 14 goals and making 14 saves.
Senior midfielder Andy Corno once again led the Hoyas in the circle, winning 14 of 20 faceoffs.
Georgetown meets Penn State next Sunday at noon at North Kehoe Field.
The Hoyas still have an outside shot at a third-straight outright league title if they can knock off the Nittany Lions and have the Scarlet Knights upset the Minutemen. The ECAC champion, however, will not receive an automatic bid until 2006, so both Georgetown and UMass will have to count on at-large berths this year.