There’s no awkward freshman air around these kids – no fumbling with words or uneasy shifting in their chairs.

They talk confidently about the transition from high school to the Hilltop and the sport they have grown up playing.

“The game’s a lot faster, you need to make quicker decisions,” midfielder Scott Kocis says of the differences he’s noticed since graduating from Huntington High in Huntington, N.Y.

But as secure as Kocis and his classmates may seem, they still lack the varsity athlete swagger. You get the sense they are still eager to prove themselves and earn their keep on the field. “We have high expectations,” Andrew Brancaccio, an attacker, says.

As they should.

Georgetown lacrosse is a perennial force on the national scene, maintaining its presence year after year by harvesting a bumper crop of talent in each recruiting class. This year, Head Coach Dave Urick has outdone himself, landing a group that Inside Lacrosse magazine touts as the best freshman class in the nation, ahead of juggernaut Johns Hopkins, reigning national champion Virginia and rival Maryland. “It’s an absolute freak show [of talent],” the article proclaims, even going so far to say that Georgetown could probably win a few games with freshmen alone. With that type of talent on the team, the freshman class could become a key factor in Georgetown’s success.

Brancaccio, Kocis and defender Chris Nixon headline the rookie class, but Urick says that several others could make significant contributions this spring.

“It’s difficult for freshmen to come in and make an immediate impact on any programs like [Division I teams],” he says. “We will have freshmen contribute for sure.” He adds that, for some of the new team members, game time will depend in part on the status of injured veteran players.

Brancaccio and Kocis stand out from the group, just by size alone. Each stands 6-foot-4, and adds a physical presence on the field. Kocis, who weighs in at 215 pounds, considers his size his best asset to the team.

“I think having like two or three deep lines of big, strong midfielders is going to really help our team, offensively and defensively,” Kocis notes. Kocis originally committed to play lacrosse at Duke, but he changed his mind and chose Georgetown when all recruits were released from their scholarships following the sexual assault allegations.

While they may not resemble your typical peach-fuzzed first year, both Kocis and Brancaccio talk about having to catch up to the older kids in the weight room and the practice field last fall. “[You] try to do stuff like you would do in high school and you would get frustrated,” Brancaccio says. “It seems like you have to run hard all the time. If you break down you’ll just get destroyed.”

Even Nixon, tabbed as the ECAC preseason rookie of the year, has had his humbling moments. “You’re not the best kid on the team anymore,” Nixon says. “You have to play with the whole team. It kind of puts you in your place.”

Nixon brings a quiet demeanor that can be misleading of such a considerable talent.

“He’s very talented and we expected him to be that type of player, and he’s lived up to the expectations,” Urick says, noting that Nixon will probably play the defensive midfield position.

Despite his reserved manner, Nixon still exudes the same eagerness to play, to compete, to contribute. “It doesn’t matter what you were ranked beforehand,” Nixon says of his highly ranked recruiting class. “[There are] just as many good players in the other class. You still have to prove yourself.”

Similar feelings crop up again and again in conversation. They don’t feel entitled by their high ranking. They just want to play.

“You still have to go to practice everyday, put in hard work for success to come,” Kocis says. “Those are just words. You actually have to do something with your work and your talent.”

Their hard work has not gone unnoticed by their teammates, either. “What they bring with them is a lot of competition for starting spots. Nobody has a secure spot on the team,” senior captain Trevor Casey says. “We keep getting these good freshmen year after year.”

Brancaccio, Kocis and Nixon are not the only freshman capable of making an impact, Urick says. Others have contributed in their own way to the Hoyas’ high hopes for the season.

Like defender Barney Ehrmann. “Somehow I think he’s going to compete his way onto the field,” Urick says.

And midfielder Spencer Gantsoudes. “He’s really been impressive,” Urick says. “He’s probably our fastest lacrosse player right now, and speed – you just can’t coach that.”

Add to the list goalie Jack Davis, “who’s been playing extremely well.”

Then there’s that able group of attackers, who Urick describes as “very capable players.” Among Urick’s favorites are Craig Dowd, who just started to practice in January but has already caught Urick’s eye, and Ricky Mirabito. Though Mirabito originally intended to redshirt this season, the performance of the Binghamton, N.Y. native has caused Urick to rethink his decision.

“The difference between how he played in the fall and how he’s playing right now has really caught the coaches’ attention,” Urick says.

Whatever their status on the team, one thing is for sure: Should Urick pull Brancaccio, Kocis or Nixon off the bench in the season opener against Maryland, all are ready and eager to play.

“I’m more excited to play and see how we match up against another top team in D1,” Kocis says. “See where all our hard work has gone. [I’m] excited to get out there and compete.”

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