The Georgetown women’s lacrosse team is set to play its season opener at home against the University of Delaware this afternoon. Last season, the Hoyas shared the Big East regular season title with then-No. 1 Florida and finished with a 7-10 record. Georgetown just barely missed qualifying to play in the national post-season tournament after a tough 11-10 loss to the University of Connecticut.
In total, the Hoyas return eight starters from the 2015 season, including senior midfielder Kristen Bandos, senior defender Kassandra Bowling and senior attack Corinne Etchison, who are set to lead their team as tri-captains. Georgetown was picked to finish third in the Big East by the league’s coaches in the 2016 preseason poll, with Bandos and Etchison being selected as a part of the Preseason All-Big East Team.
Bandos was named to the first team last season after leading the Hoyas with 29 goals and playing in all 17 games. Etchison was a Second Team All-Big East honoree after starting in all 17 games and was fourth on her team in scoring with 18 goals and nine assists.
Bandos looks forward to her role as a leader this season both on and off the field.
“My personal goals are just to step up from last year. Now that I’m captain, I have a bigger role on the team. I want to help make the team better as a whole,” Bandos said.
Head Coach Ricky Fried enters his 12th season with the program and has led the Hoyas to a 124-77 overall record during his tenure. He is confident in his team’s ability to come out strong in its first game and praises the speed and agility of this year’s team.
“We are more athletic than we were last year and have more depth than in the past,” Fried said. “A lot of it is going to be just execution. We need to execute to our ability and not so much focus on our outside influences of our opponent, the clock on the field or the score. We have a lot of leadership down the defensive end of the field and a lot of younger players on the offensive end of the field.”
Georgetown lost to Delaware 17-5 in its season opener last year in a game plagued with turnovers. The Blue Hens jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and the Hoyas were never able to recover, scoring no goals in the second half of the game.
Fried hopes to see a better outcome to start the 2016 season.
“Delaware is a very athletic team, and we need to come in hungry but focus on us,” Fried said. “Last year was not a very good result against them, but we have to stay focused on this event and then move on from here.”
While seven seniors hope to lead the team with experience, the Blue and Gray have ten fresh faces that will bring youth and energy to strengthen the team. Freshman midfielder Natalie Bulgier appeared in the 2015 FIL U-19 World Cup and won a silver medal with Team USA, while freshman midfielder Rachael Alberti tallied 278 career points in high school and was named a New England All-Star in 2015. In addition to nine freshmen, the Hoyas welcomed graduate student transfer Morgan Rubin from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Rubin appeared in 32 career games with one start and scored 11 goals and tallied four assists for 15 career points.
Fried said that the senior leaders are excelling at incorporating the new players, but the team is still working on coming together.
“Just because we put on the same uniform doesn’t make us a team; it just makes us members of the same group. We graduated nine seniors [last year] and have nine freshmen [this year], so there is a big difference in the makeup of this team and a lot of it is connecting with each other on and off the field. When we do play together, we can be able to trust each other and play for each other, not just for ourselves individually,” Fried said.
As the Hoyas focus on their first game, they have a tough season to look forward to, as they will face seven squads that finished 2015 ranked in the top 20 nationally. Georgetown will play No. 1 University of Maryland, the reigning NCAA champions from last season. The team will also play strong competitors such as Princeton and Duke, both road games. When conference play starts in April, Georgetown will host three home games and travel for four road contests.
Though Delaware is the team’s first challenge on its tough slate of games, Bandos is already looking ahead to bigger goals down the road.
“At the beginning of the season we had a meeting and discussed our goals. Obviously the national championship is the team goal, but there are steps to get there. First is winning the Big East Championship outright, and we would love to be regular season champs, especially since we are hosting it. We want to get to the NCAA and take steps from there,” Bandos said.
Fried hopes the team’s primary focus will be only on the game ahead, but he knows this is an unrealistic expectation.
“Every coach looks into the future and hopes the players don’t,” Fried said. “We try to get them to focus on how we are playing and what we are doing at that particular game and moment and what we need to correct. This sounds cliche, but you only get to play one game at a time. After that game it doesn’t matter if you win or lose but that game is over and you have to move on to the next one. It’s all about how you deal with the success or failure that you met with that game and how you play for the following event.”