Georgetown’s Big East regular season could not have started off any better – with the No. 8 Hoyas (7-3, 2-0) defeating No. 10 Notre Dame (9-2, 1-1) and coming back two days later to get their second conference win against Rutgers (4-7, 0-2). The Big East opener was an especially gratifying win for the Hoyas because they stepped up their play and mounted a comeback to earn it.

“We’re really happy to start conference 2-0 and I was really proud of the team with the way they fought back in the second half against Notre Dame,” Head Coach Ricky Fried said.

The action started immediately against Notre Dame. After winning the opening draw control, the Fighting Irish scored a goal 40 seconds into the game. But a mere 13 seconds later, the Hoyas responded with one of their own. The teams traded goals during the next three minutes.

After nearly six minutes of scoreless play, Notre Dame took advantage of a Georgetown turnover and foul to go ahead off of a goal by sophomore attack Jillian Byers, the Irish’s all-time points leader. Byers came back after her goal to win the draw control, and then, less than two minutes later, captured her second goal to put Notre Dame up 4-2.

The Hoyas made sure the Irish lead did not extend any further and won the next draw control to go on the offensive. After a shot by senior midfielder and captain Megan Bloomer went wide, the Hoyas reclaimed possession and found junior midfielder Ashby Kaestner for her first goal of the game. Notre Dame secured the draw control after the goal and found Byers for her fifth shot of the game.

Georgetown junior goalkeeper Caitlin Formby was ready for Byers this time though. After making the save, Formby quickly delivered the ball to Kaestner who took it to the goal and tied up the game for the Hoyas.

At 13:05, the Fighting Irish scooped up a Hoya turnover and started an attack. A Georgetown defender tried to halt the Notre Dame offense with a foul, but the Irish got a shot off three seconds later. Formby made the save, but could not smother the ball. Notre Dame sophomore attack Ansley Stewart picked up the rebound and fired it in to give the Irish back the lead.

The draw controls continued to be key. After winning the next one, Notre Dame got the ball to Byers for her third goal of the game. Now trailing 6-4, senior defender and captain Bridget Noon got a much-needed draw control win for the Hoyas. They kept possession and eventually found sophomore attack Jordy Kirr, who took a free position shot in front of goal. The Irish goalkeeper made a save on the shot but could not hold in the ball. Instead of watching her first shot, Kirr stayed with it, got her own rebound and stuffed it in to put Georgetown back within one.

But back came Byers. After a Georgetown turnover, Byers led the Notre Dame counterattack and connected with junior attack Gina Scioscia to reclaim the two-goal lead. In the next minute and a half, the Irish scored another, prompting Fried to call a timeout with 5:02 to play. Notre Dame recaptured possession after the time out and had two more shots before the end of the half, but could not capitalize.

Georgetown’s play coming out of halftime showed why they are ranked 8th in the nation. The Hoyas buckled down and took advantage of their opportunities, scoring six straight unanswered goals. Of the six, three came from sophomore attack Jacqueline Giles and two from junior attack Molly Ford. The 6-0 run gave the Hoyas a three-goal lead, 11-8, with 18:52 left to play. When asked what changes, if any, his team made going into the second half, Fried kept things simple. “We just tried to execute better in the second half,” he said. “Our defense really stepped up in the second half and caused turnovers.”

Fried also noted the team’s increased possession in the second half.

“We excelled because we gained possession and protected the ball bringing it up the field,” he said.

The three-goal deficit proved to be insurmountable for the Irish. The teams exchanged goals twice in the next 12 minutes, resulting in a 13-10 Hoya lead with six minutes to play.

With 3:27 left, Giles notched her fourth goal off a free position shot to give Georgetown its first four-goal lead. The Irish continued to fight and responded with one of their own 30 seconds later. And then, forty seconds after that, Byers resurfaced, claiming her first goal of the second half, and fourth of the game. But it was too little too late for Notre Dame as Georgetown won by two, 14-12.

Giles led Georgetown’s offense with four goals, followed by Ford and Kaestner with three apiece. Kirr and junior attack Sarah Seats each recorded two goals. When questioned how important it was that many players got involved in the scoring, Fried praised his team’s depth. “We have a lot of different players with the ability to score and it’s nice to see them getting more opportunities,” Fried said. “It shows just how deep we are as a team.”

Noon’s four draw controls were much needed for the Hoyas, especially since they ended the game with six fewer than the Irish. Notre Dame also finished with five more ground ball pickups and five more shots.

Where the Hoyas had the edge was in goalkeeping and shot percentage. Formby ended the match with 11 saves, as compared to five for Notre Dame’s keeper. The other Hoya goalkeeper, sophomore Lauren Thomas, also contributed to the win, giving Formby a rest and time to regroup at the end of the first half. Georgetown ended the match with a .500 shooting percentage – 14 goals on 28 shots. Notre Dame posted a .363 shooting percentage, scoring 12 goals on 33 shots.

The story in this match was Georgetown’s second half resurgence, as evidenced by the Hoyas improvement in every statistical category in the second half.

Georgetown will host No. 7 Syracuse (8-2, 2-0 Big East) Friday at 6 p.m. in the first game under the lights at the Multi-Sport Field. The Hoyas will have to contain junior midfield Christina Dove, who last weekend became the third player in Syracuse women’s lacrosse history to score 200 points. Fried acknowledged the Hoya defense will face a challenge in Dove, but explained that she would not present anything the Hoyas have not already seen.

“We have faced such outstanding competition already this season that guarding her will be similar to some of the top scorers from Northwestern, Duke or Maryland,” Fried said. “This is a huge conference game for us after losing to them last season and I know that the girls are up for it.”

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