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Young Hoyas seek to recapture Urick’s winning tradition
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.”