Fans squinted and trophies glistened in the bright sunlight as they were awarded one by one to each member of the Georgetown women’s lacrosse team, after it cemented the Big East championship Saturday. With its commanding 18-6 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats (5-10, 0-7), the Hoyas took home the conference title to cap the regular season (11-4, 6-1 Big East). Syracuse also posted a 6-1 league record, but because the Hoyas defeated Syracuse head-to-head, Georgetown will enter the Big East tournament as the top seed.

The magnitude of the team’s accomplishment was not lost on senior midfielder and co-captain Katie Burton. “It’s so great not only to win, but to be the first seed,” she said.

The Hoyas knew going into the game that ending in first place, and consequently being named top seed in the Big East tournament, was very attainable – after all, they just had to beat a team that had yet to win a regular-season league match. Still, the Hoyas took nothing for granted and opened aggressively. Junior attack Molly Ford notched two goals three minutes into the match. Within a few minutes, the Hoyas had two more goals and a 4-0 lead.

Cincinnati got on the scoreboard with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half, but Georgetown responded quickly with two more goals. Cincinnati then scored back-to-back goals to narrow the Hoyas’ lead to three, which was as close as the Bearcats would get for the rest of the match. Head Coach Ricky Fried called a time out, which seemed to ignite a fire under the players. Six more unanswered Georgetown goals made the halftime score 12-3.

That commanding halftime lead gave the Hoya bench players some important playing time.

“It’s always good to get everybody involved in the game, because everyone practices equally as hard and some don’t get as much recognition,” Fried said.

Burton also addressed the value of the halftime lead. “It was one of our goals at the beginning of the game to get the bench players in, because they are the ones who push us in practice,” she said.

Coming out of the locker room, Fried kept his team focused on the task at hand.

“It’s important to play at a high level, regardless of the opponent,” he said.

The Hoyas did just that. They did not let up in the second half – instead, they notched four straight goals. Cincinnati broke through the Georgetown defense and connected for three more goals. But the Hoyas tallied two more, for a final 18-6 drubbing.

Ten different Hoyas scored. Ford and sophomore attack Allie Hubschmann led the scoring with four goals each and junior midfielder Ashby Kaestner and sophomore attack Jacqueline Giles followed with two goals apiece. Sophomore attack Kathleen Dwyer’s fan section, which consisted of her high school team from Loyola Academy in Chicago, went wild when she scored the final Hoya goal of the match. Senior defense and co-captain Bridget Noon ended the match with four draw control wins and Ford caused four of the 12 Bearcat turnovers in the match.

Georgetown outshot Cincinnati 35-13 and finished with four more ground-ball pickups and 11 fewer turnovers. The statistical category in which Georgetown did not outdo its opponent was draw-control wins. The Bearcats won nine more draw controls.

When asked what, if anything, the team would take from the match going into the postseason, Fried found some things upon which his team can improve. “We had a few mental lapses and gave them some easy shots,” he said. “We need to maintain possession.”

As the No. 1 seed, Georgetown will host No. 4 seed Louisville (9-5, 3-4) in the semifinal at Multi-Sport Facility. It is Louisville’s first season in Division I and the Big East. The Hoyas beat Louisville 15-11 in the teams’ regular-season meeting. But, when reflecting on that match, Fried admitted his team did not close out the Cardinals the way they should have.

“We went up big and let them crawlback,” he said.

Burton echoed her coach’s sentiment.

“We checked out against Louisville last time,” she said. “And they have showed us they are a team that can come back.”

Both Fried and Burton know that success depends upon not taking anything for granted – as made clear by the Hoyas’ loss last week to the Loyola Greyhounds, who did not qualify for the tournament.

“[That] showed us there is no team we can overlook,” Burton said.

Fried added his own take on the situation.

“The effort has been consistent, but the focus has been lacking at times,” he said. “We need to make sure we keep the energy up and don’t rely on a few players to pick the team up.”

So, how will the Hoyas prepare for the tournament weekend?

“Fundamentals are key,” Fried said. “We will focus on doing the little things consistently.”

Burton addressed the goals on her side of the field.

“Defensively, it will be all about giving up the shots we need to give up,” she said.

She also praised the contribution that all team players have made this season.

“Our team has really been whole as a unit; there is no class split,” she said. “The freshmen and sophomores have been great contributors.”

If Georgetown wins its semifinal match against Louisville on Friday, it will play in the tournament final on Sunday against the winner of the other semifinal matchup between Syracuse and Notre Dame. The winner of the Big East tournament automatically qualifies for the NCAA tournament. Though the Hoyas won the regular-season title two years ago, they have yet to capture a Big East tournament title in the tournament’s three years of existence.

Burton encapsulated the Hoyas’ attitude in one sentence.

“We are confident being the first seed, but it is up to us to make sure [we don’t become overconfident] and that we get it done.”

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