2015 was a milestone year for the Georgetown men’s lacrosse program in many ways. In just his third year on the Hilltop, Head Coach Kevin Warne led the Hoyas to a winning record, a national ranking and an appearance in the Big East Championship.
However, success has not always come easy to the program in recent years; after former Head Coach Dave Urick’s retirement in 2012, Georgetown faced the difficult process of adapting to a different team culture under an entirely new coaching staff.
Urick stepped down after a 23-year tenure marked by 11 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances between 1997 and 2007 and 21 winning seasons. Warne took over with big shoes to fill and many challenges for the seasons to come.
Georgetown struggled in 2013 and 2014, but after two losing seasons and adjustments in strategy and leadership, 2015 was the year to turn it around.
“It’s definitely nice to have a winning season. … We’ve learned from our past and have been able to move forward and succeed,” senior attack Bo Stafford said.
Since the beginning of his time as head coach, Warne has emphasized the importance of his players buying into every part of the program — game strategy, unselfishness and team unity — in order to find success. Warne says this year’s senior class, which is the last class on the team that played for Urick, epitomized this dedication.
“Georgetown lacrosse started way before me. Coach Urick … built an unbelievable foundation for our program, and I’m fortunate enough now to build on top of that foundation. I’m looking forward to the years to come,” Warne said. “I think [our success] started with our senior class this year. They did an awesome job leading us along the way.”
The 2015 senior class was just as fundamental to the team’s success on the field as it was to cementing team unity off the field. The seniors saw significant time playing time this season, and from the role players to the stat leaders, the class was packed with talent and dedication, as well as a team-first attitude.
“Something we talk about every single week is that it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. As long as we produce, that’s all that matters. I think that starts with our coaching staff,” senior attack Reilly O’Connor said.
Though the Blue and Gray reached the Big East Championship and recorded double-digit wins for the first time since 2007, the program still has a lot of room to grow. After suffering losses to several ranked teams — including conference rival Denver, the reigning conference champion over the past two seasons — Warne emphasizes that there is still much to accomplish.
“I think we have to look ahead but always learn from our past,” Warne said. “We don’t have it all figured out yet; there’s still probably some different ways of doing things or some different ways for our guys to understand some concepts. We’re going to look at everything we did this year to give our guys the best opportunity to put themselves in the position to win some of those bigger games.”
Those bigger games include the Big East Championship, of course — but Warne has his sights set on something more.
After dropping the conference championship game to Denver May 2, Georgetown waited until the following day to hear the results of the 2015 NCAA Tournament selections — only to find out that its season was over.
“You always want to take the next step,” Warne said. “Obviously we won a bunch of games this year, which was awesome … but I think that next year the guys will understand that they were pretty disappointed on Sunday night during the [NCAA Tournament] selection show when they didn’t hear their name get called.”
The road to the 2016 postseason starts now. Warne says that with each training session and each fall ball game, the Hoyas will build off of what this year’s seniors will leave behind.
“Every senior class gets to leave their legacy, and their legacy was to get to the Big East final, which we haven’t been able to do in the past couple years. They leave the program in a great place, and [they] helped to build our future success. … They leave a blueprint for the classes to come,” Warne said.
Georgetown’s future certainly looks bright. The program brings in a new group of experienced seniors and talented underclassmen fresh off of breakout rookie seasons — as well as a promising recruiting class.
Warne says that 2016 holds many opportunities for him to grow alongside his players, the first team that he exclusively has recruited and coached.
“As a coach, it’s pretty simple: I want to get better individually, and the guys all want to get better, and they understand that we did a good job, but it still wasn’t enough. … It’ll be a brand new season and a brand new team, and we’ll have different leadership. Every team has a life of its own,” Warne said.
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