Hoyas Gain Au­to­matic En­try Into NCAAs

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - By Chris­tian Swezey

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.”

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