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Lacrosse season preview
Young Hoyas seek to recapture Urick’s winning tradition
by Kevin Joseph
7-7. A record like that does not sit well with Dave Urick. The face and head coach of Georgetown lacrosse simply is not used to losing. Now entering his 23rd season at Georgetown, the legendary coach is coming off his worst three-year stretch with the program. He knows it, but he also feels that this group, despite its significant youth, can restore the unranked Hoyas to their proper place in the upper echelon of collegiate lacrosse.
“Obviously, there’s no secret that the last few years we haven’t lived up to the standard that the program has created here over the previous 15 or 20 years,” Urick said. “I think these guys are working hard and are anxious to get back into that group of schools that’s still playing at the end of the year.”
For that to happen, Urick needs significant contributions from a group of unknown commodities. Senior Zach Angel, for instance, has struggled with a number of injuries during his time on the Hilltop. But now the team captain is fully healthy and certainly not flying under the radar—he was named to the Big East Preaseason First Team with teammate Travis Comeau.
“It’s an interesting part of the season,” Urick said. “You go in with a lot of questions personnel-wise, you’ve got a lot of younger guys playing key roles, and health becomes a little bit of an issue.”
Comeau, a junior, allows Urick to work around one of those questions. The attack scored 55 goals in his first two seasons as a Hoya, and remains the team’s most dangerous offensive threat. His emergence could not be timelier, as Georgetown recently lost graduate student attackman Rickey Mirabito to graduation and sophomore attackman Davey Emala to North Carolina.
Because of these losses, the team had to reload up front, a task simplified by redshirt sophomore Zac Guy’s return from last year’s season-ending wrist injury, and junior Jason McFadden’s transition to attack. McFadden came seemingly out of nowhere for the Hoyas, a desperately needed emergence after Emala’s transfer.
“Jason’s filling his spot and is just as good or better of a shooter as Davey,” Comeau said. “We haven’t really skipped a beat at all.”
Angel reiterated his teammate’s sentiment. “It obviously hurts losing Davey,” he said. “But [McFadden] has played a huge role for us this year, and I think he’s going to do great things for us.”
He won’t be without reinforcements, though—Angel leads a midfield that Urick and his coaching staff are confident that the team can lean on. The coach feels that Angel, in particular, will present matchup nightmares for opponents.
“It’s going to be interesting to see who they choose to put the long-stick on with that midfield, but I have a feeling Zach will see it more often than not,” Urick said. “Francis McDonough and Brian Casey are also on that unit. That’s a pretty good unit, and it’ll be interesting to see how teams match up…they have to put the pole on one of those guys.”
Urick took this prediction a step further, suggesting that teams may be forced to bump two long-sticks to defend the Hoya midfielders, opening up favorable matchups for Comeau and the rest of the attack.
On the individual level, the Hoya midfield looks different from most, with each player providing something unique. Angel, for his part, will greatly aid Comeau with the goal-scoring, as the four-year starter leads the midfield in goals last season with 15. Senior McDonough has contributed more as a defensive midfielder—one of the tough do-everything types that any successful unit needs. But mainly because of heightened chemistry and their preseason play, Angel expects that McDonough and junior Casey will also help him fill the goal-scoring void.
“Our team as a whole, we all click very well,” the Maryland native said. “I guess this year off the field translates directly onto the field where we’re all just one close-knit group. Success, I think, will come from that.”
Across the board, the players seem to credit first-year Associate Head Coach Matt Kerwick with transitioning the new group in preparation for the season. Urick has kept the Hoya program quite stable during his time on the Hilltop, but breathed new life into it by bringing Kerwick back to Georgetown after a two-year head coaching stint in Jacksonville.
“Matt was an offensive player [under Urick at Hobart] and he’s a great coach, but he’s working with the defense primarily,” Urick said. “I think that’s obviously going to help him tremendously in the long run. He’s a real positive addition to what we’re doing, that’s for sure.”
Kerwick’s defensive work has been centered on transitioning junior Chris Nourse into the spotlight. After losing All-American Honorable Mention defender Barney Ehrmann and goalie Jack Davis to graduation, the Hoyas need Nourse and senior captain and goalie CT Fisher to fill more voids on the defensive end. Though Nourse has been struggling with what Urick describes as “a couple of cracks in his hand,” the coach feels that he could be ready for the team’s season opener. Either way, he knows that once the team gets Nourse in the fold, the defense is capable of playing a major role to the team’s success this season.
“We’re doing well down at that [defensive] end, and the kids have responded really well. I think the issue right now is Chris Nourse,” Urick said of his injured defender. “He’s an exceptional player for us, though. Very versatile.”
As always, the Hoyas must maneuver one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season. Nearly all of their Big East opponents are ranked, while their out-of-conference slate includes powerhouses Maryland, Duke, and Harvard. Any program could use such a schedule as the perfect excuse for a failed season, but it is not so for Geogetown. After joking that he would find the knucklehead who created the schedule, Urick offered his real perspective, one that has kept the Hoyas on the national lacrosse radar for almost three decades under his reign.
“The players come here for the opportunity to play with and against the best teams and the best players around,” he said.
A young team with low expectations—a familiar trend for Georgetown athletics this year—men’s lacrosse hopes to follow in the footsteps of its basketball counterpart. This would not come as a shock, but rather a restoration to the order that Urick has established during his time on the Hilltop. The team is anxious and hungry to get back to the NCAA Tournament and make some noise, something they all feel is an attainable goal.
“There’s a lot of competition out there, for sure, but that’s a realistic goal,” Urick said. “A goal’s got to be within your reach, but not necessarily in your grasp, and that’s exactly where we’re at.”
High expectations for captains Barnes and Thomas in 2012
by Abby Sherburne
After being ranked first in the Big East preseason poll, the Georgetown women’s lacrosse team has to live up to some big expectations. Luckily, the women have some strong upperclassman leadership in junior Sophia Thomas and senior Kelly Barnes, both of whom were named preseason All-Americans and are on the Tewaaraton Award watch list.
Thomas, a junior midfielder from Lutherville, Md., garnered a lot of attention in her first two years, surprising the Big East with a team-high 37 goals in the 2011 season. She also led the team in turnovers caused, recording 33 for the season. Head Coach Ricky Fried credits some of her success to her supreme athleticism. And as if her stats weren’t impressive enough, Thomas outshined the conference as well, grabbing the Big East Midfielder of the Year award.
But her aptitude goes far beyond numbers and awards. “Soph really leads by example,” Fried said. “She plays all facets of the game.”
For Thomas, the awards don’t mean much. “It’s a great opportunity to be put in a position like that, but it just comes down to how you play on the field,” she said of her numerous nods. The self-professed “competitive person” is focused on rallying her team to better last year’s performance.
Fried, for one, is impressed with her work ethic. Even after the accolades, Fried says Thomas “continues to work hard to improve her game, which I think says a lot about her as a player.” As a midfielder, Thomas spends a lot of time running up and down the field, a testament to her strong athleticism. While this is a quality she shares with her teammates, Fried says that Thomas’s leadership position is unique as a midfielder, and that historically the squad has been led by attackers or defenders.
Thomas says that she looks up to Barnes, who exemplifies a lead-by-example mentality to the squad. The senior defender has seen her share of success as well, but she too doesn’t heed it much.
“What people say outside the field, it really doesn’t mean anything if you can’t come and be a good leader and be a good teammate,” the Pennsylvania native said.
Fried cannot say enough about Barnes, especially with regard to her importance as a team leader. He is especially impressed by her growth, and how she has started to rally the other players on the team.
“[Barnes] wasn’t real ‘rah-rah’ or vocal, and she’s learning to find her voice a little and demand the respect from her teammates, not only through her play but holding them accountable through her voice,” Fried said.
Both women rise above their roles as team leaders, and have tried to spread their love of lacrosse to younger teammates. Thomas, for instance, spends time each summer coaching a lacrosse team in Baltimore with teammate Kelsi Bozel. She says it is rewarding to work with the kids, and that it does not hurt for her to keep up with the sport.
“Lacrosse never stops,” Barnes said. “In a good way!” She helps coach a Georgetown lacrosse camp during her summers, and has devoted a lot of time to the betterment of her peers and students.
While Barnes is not sure how she will keep lacrosse in her life after graduation, she certainly knows that it will continue to play a role. “Ricky says it every day, it’s the best part of your day,” Thomas said. “You come out, you get to hang out with your best friends for three hours”. What sets Thomas and Barnes apart is just this—the desire to do what they love better, and with the people they love best. The captains open another campaign with high hopes next Wednesday against Delaware.
Face-off is set for 4 p.m. at Multi-Sport Field.
Angel and Comeau look to power strong Hoya attack against Maryland
by Keaton Hoffman
Despite historically high national rankings and a legacy of league success, the Georgetown men’s lacrosse program, which eked out a .500 record last season, hasn’t done much in the postseason. But the team’s struggles are not for lack of star power. This season, Head Coach Dave Urick boasts a second round Major League Lacrosse pick in senior midfielder Gerry Reilly—just after losing defenseman Barney Ehrmann to graduation and a professional contract. The coach is optimistic about this season’s prospects, though much of this is because of his two highly-touted offensive players. With Big East Preseason First Team players like junior Travis Comeau and senior Zack Angel leading the charge, Urick’s optimism might not be misplaced.
At 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds, Alberta native Travis Comeau is an unlikely leader for the Georgetown squad, but if last year’s numbers are any indication, 2012 could be another stellar year for the junior attackman. As a sophomore, Comeau managed an impressive 30 goals and five assists, making him the second-highest scorer for the Hoyas. One of Comeau’s most impressive attributes is his accuracy, which he honed during his summer spent playing box lacrosse in his native Canada. Nearly 80 percent of his shorts are on target and 47 percent earn goals.
“He’s obviously a great finisher,” Urick said. “He has that unique ability to put the ball in the back of the net.”
The left-handed Comeau talks about chasing current Assistant Coach (and son of the head coach) Scott Urick’s record as Georgetown’s all-time leading goal scorer, with 144 goals over his four years on the Hilltop. Currently at 55, Comeau would have to average 45 goals for this season and next to match him, an accomplishment made somewhat more feasible given Comeau’s new status as the team’s prime offensive target following the transfer of last year’s leading scorer Davey Emala to North Carolina.
Comeau isn’t the only surprise awaiting the vaunted Terrapins, who are ranked eighth in the nation, come Friday. Plagued by injuries last year and during the offseason, senior midfielder Zack Angel has a lot to prove coming into his final year for the Hoyas. “[Angel’s] been playing with a lot of injuries, and now that I look at him and see what he’s doing right now—he’s playing exceptionally well,” Urick said. A versatile player who’s had successes on the defensive side of the field as well, Angel has all the skills to make this a miracle season for Georgetown. Last year he recorded 15 goals and scored in seven of the last eight games for the Hoyas.
Besides continuing to put up impressive numbers for the Hoyas on both offense and defense, Angel, alongside senior team captains Reilly, CT Fisher, and Neil McGroarty, plays an important role as a leader on the team—as he put it, “trying to just push everybody to be their best each day.”
Both Comeau and Angel have high hopes for this season, in part because of the team’s chemistry. Both stars acknowledge the inevitable role that such intangibles will have to play in their success.
“We’re all just one close knit group,” Angel said. “Success I think will come from that.”
Comeau reiterated this sentiment. “The off-field camaraderie translates onto the field really well,” he said. “No one’s selfish. Everyone’s out there to make plays for each other and we all have got each other’s backs.”
Such optimism is admirable, but as any chemist will tell you, the results can be catastrophic if all elements do not combine perfectly. As he prepares for Friday’s game, Angel admitted that basic ball skills have been lacking.
“We have the intensity, we have the drive, but right now it’s about passing, catching, just getting basically the rust off the stick before the big game,” he said.
Angel and the other team leaders are hoping that they can get the team up to speed to shock the Terrapins, who will come in with one game already under their belts. An explosive win could set off a chain reaction and propel the Hoyas into the postseason, while a loss could result in a contagion of doubt and insecurity that infects the entire season.
Face-off is slated for 7 p.m. at Multi-Sport Field.