After a disappointing quadruple overtime loss to No. 19 Princeton, the Georgetown women’s lacrosse team (5-5, 3-0 Big East) has bounced back. Although a two-game winning streak is nothing to write home about, consecutive victories over Connecticut and No. 14 Notre Dame marked the first time this year the Hoyas have strung two wins together. Head Coach Ricky Fried is pleased with the way that his team has kept its focus despite falling five consecutive times to ranked opponents before edging out Notre Dame on Saturday.
“Morale is pretty good,” Fried said. “Knowing that we can still have our fate in our own hands with conference play [helps].”
The No. 15 Hoyas will have to dominate conference play if they want to reclaim their elite status after losing to the top four teams in the country this season, and the back-to-back wins are important in the Blue and Gray’s yearly quest for Big East supremacy.
The most important takeaway for Fried from the two games, especially the win over the Fighting Irish, was the way his team refused to give in. An unfortunate hallmark of the Hoyas’ season so far has been allowing their opponents to go on ill-timed runs and seize control of the game in the second half, but they buckled down over the weekend.
“[Notre Dame] came back and actually tied the game, and I thought our kids stayed in the moment, stayed in the game really well,” Fried said. “They could have checked out and said, `Oh, here we go again.’ I think one of the biggest things that we took away from it was that we minimized the unforced errors [that had] really been putting us in tough spots.”
A key to Georgetown’s resurgence has been junior Logan McCraw, who has had the unenviable task this year of switching positions from midfielder to defender. Her steady play at the back has worked toward solidifying a relatively young and inexperienced group of defenders.
“We’ve placed a lot of responsibility on [McCraw],” Fried said. “She’s handled that really well, [and] we’ve continued to grow defensively.”
Fried also had high praise for sophomore Kelly Barnes, but he was quick to point out that his team still has a long way to go if it wants to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, which would require beating the high-caliber teams the Hoyas have failed to defeat thus far.
“I think we’ve progressed, I think there’s always going to be work to be done because if we peak now, we’re going to be in trouble,” Fried said. “Getting better at playing at pace on both ends of the field, playing a little bit freer, and making sure we don’t react to the opponents and we stay under control at both ends of the field – that’ll be our biggest focus.”
If nothing else, the Hoyas’ early-season struggles against elite competition gave Fried and his coaching staff an early look at the areas where his team needs to improve in order to achieve its lofty goals, and Fried certainly does not regret putting together such a brutal schedule. The most recent wins for the Blue and Gray indicate that they, as Fried hopes, are well on their way to using those early-season experiences as teaching moments rather than letting those tough losses cast a pall over the rest of the season.
“It’s good to point out your flaws, point out the places that you can improve, and hopefully it’s less demoralizing and more uplifting at the end of the day,” Fried said. “That’s going to be a big piece for us: not saying that we can hang with them but actually believing that we can play at this level once it gets to be [tournament] time.”
The Hoyas will look to break the .500 mark and build on their perfect conference record this weekend on a road trip, with contests against Cincinnati on Friday and Louisville on Sunday.