This March will bring not only the typical madness of the NCAA basketball tournament and the hype of baseball spring training, but also the inaugural season of Big East women’s lacrosse. And after a remarkable 2000 campaign in which Georgetown advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, no team is looking forward to league play and making a postseason run more than the Hoyas.

Picked unanimously to win the Big East by the conference’s seven coaches, Georgetown, which finished No. 7 in the final Brine/Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association poll last season, returns all but three of its starters. Six of those returning starters are seniors, who will lead a team determined to advance to the final four.

“The team is more balanced than we have ever been and we have more leadership and experience than we have ever had,” head coach Kim Simons said. “Making the final four is not only a goal, but it is something we feel we should be able to achieve with this team if we stay healthy and play well.”

A fearsome attack and a tough defense, particularly in net, should lead the Hoyas in their drive for an extra long, extra sweet season.

Senior attacker Sheehan Stanwick, an All-American and one of only two college players selected for the 2000-01 U.S. Elite Women’s Lacrosse Team, will head the offense. Senior goalie Bowen Holden, named to the preseason College Lacrosse USA At-Large Team, will anchor the defense. Stanwick has a Georgetown record 215 career points, while Bowen closed out last season in fifth place in the nation for save percentage and 18th in goals-against average.

“Our attack is where our strength lies,” Simons said. “We have a great attack without any real weaknesses as far as I can see. It is very balanced and potent and I think it is where a lot of other teams have placed their emphasis [when playing us].”

“Defensively, we should be very solid. In the cage, Holden is an All-American, so from end to end we are feeling pretty confident.”

As they should.

The Hoyas finished last year with a very tough 7-6 overtime loss to Maryland, who eventually defeated Princeton for the women’s national title.

“I think bringing a lot of the team back that had a lot of success but finished the season with a devastating loss helps to motivate,” Simons said. “Losses like that [to Maryland] really build character.”

Georgetown will be able to test that character throughout the 2001 season with a tough schedule that includes non-conference games against Vanderbilt, Duke, James Madison, Princeton and, of course, Maryland.

Last year, Duke and Princeton each handed the Hoyas one of their five losses, while James Madison, Duke and Vanderbilt all finished in the top 20.

“There are definitely some teams we’d like to knock off,” Simons said. “There are a few that have been irking me for nine to 10 months now, and I’m sure the rest of the team feels the same way.”

But Maryland ranks no higher than any other team on the list of those that are “irking” the women.

“Maryland, to be honest, is no different than any other team that we play,” Simons said. “We’re looking at it like they’re just another team that happens to have won a lot of games.”

Yet, with the strength of its non-conference schedule, the teams Georgetown will play in the Big East cannot be overlooked. This is particularly true of Syracuse, who will be looking to avenge an 11-10 loss at the hands of the Hoyas in the first round of last year’s tournament.

Simons stresses the importance of playing especially well within the conference.

“The outright winner of the Big East gets an automatic bid to the tournament, which is obviously pretty significant,” Simons said. “That is another goal, to win the Big East in its inaugural season. I have seven seniors who hopefully understand the importance of conference play.”

Those seniors have helped catapult Georgetown into the national spotlight over the past four years. Stanwick, Holden, midfielders Caitlin McLean (preseason All-American), Sarah Oglesby and Reagan Raneri, and defensemen Gussie Habeck and Jessica Walls have all helped vault the Hoyas into contention for the biggest possible prize, a national title.

“This senior class is my first real recruiting class,” Simons said. “They were brought in with the idea that they would help build the program.”

They have.

With returning junior attacker Erin Elbe, another pre-season All-American, sophomore attacker Wick Stanwick, Sheehan’s sister, and a talented freshman class, Georgetown is poised to improve upon their heartbreaking exit from the tournament a year ago.

“We’re really excited about the 2001 season,” Simons said. “If they [the Hoyas] want to be one of the best teams in the country at the end of the season, they have to play like that every single game. I would be disappointed if we didn’t compete and give ourselves an opportunity to win every single game this year.”

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