Hoyas Gain Automatic Entry Into NCAAs
The 1997 Georgetown men’s lacrosse team was honored at halftime of the game against Rutgers yesterday at Multi-Sport Field; that team was the first in school history to make the NCAA tournament.
The Hoyas have not missed the tournament since. They clinched their 11th straight NCAA berth following a 12-8 victory over the Scarlet Knights in an Eastern College Athletic Conference game before 1,647. With the victory, Georgetown (10-2, 6-0) clinched the ECAC title and automatic berth for the NCAA tournament.
It did so largely because senior Christiaan Trunzwon 20 of 23 faceoffs (86.9 percent). It was the highest percentage for a Georgetown player with more than 10 attempts since Andy Corno won 15 of 16 (93.7 percent) against Army in the NCAA tournament in 2005.
It also marked just the second time since a 21-8 victory over now-defunct Butler in 2001 that the Hoyas had won 20 faceoffs in a game. The Hoyas have won 20 or more just 11 times since they began recording the statistic in 1997.
“We had been doing better [on faceoffs], but we have two freshmen out there,” Rutgers Coach Jim Stagnitta said. “And their kid was terrific.”
Trunz’s performance helped offset a slow start against the Scarlet Knights (5-6, 3-3). He won the game’s first 10 faceoffs. Yet a goal by senior Colin Checcio late in the second quarter gave Rutgers a 6-3 lead at halftime. To that point, the Hoyas were 3-of-15 shooting and had eight turnovers, and junior goalkeeper Miles Kass had one save.
“In the first half we weren’t moving our feet, we were passing over people’s heads or at their feet,” junior attackman Brendan Cannon said. “We were throwing some lazy passes. . . . But the coaches were telling us that with Christiaan winning the faceoffs, we were going to get possession.”
And the Hoyas took advantage. Cannon and sophomore Jake Samperton each scored two goals in the second half, including a goal by Samperton with 0.4 of a second left in the third quarter that gave the Hoyas their first lead at 7-6. They then scored five times in the fourth quarter, culminating in a score by senior Trevor Casey with 1 minute 31 seconds left for the final margin.
The defense also improved. In the second half, Kass had six saves and the Hoyas forced a turnover on eight of Rutgers’s 12 possessions.
About the only constant was Trunz. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Scarlet Knights had junior Brian Melvin facing off; it was his first attempt this year. Later, they moved two longstick defenders to the wings, an unusual tactic.
“I took it as a compliment,” Trunz said of Rutgers’s machinations. “Our wing play was fantastic. Those guys are very underrated.”
Senior Matt Gaines had four goals and freshman goalie Bill Olin had 18 saves for Rutgers.
Georgetown’s automatic berth should not be underestimated. Syracuse’s 9-7 loss to Massachusetts yesterday means it will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1982.
“There are some very good teams who are going to not be in the tournament,” Hoyas Coach Dave Urick said. “As I told the guys, this doesn’t mean we’re going to win it. But in order to win you have to get in, and now we know we’re in.”