It is exceedingly difficult to introduce The Hoya’s Female Athlete of the Year, senior attack Erin Elbe of the Big East champion women’s lacrosse team. She is a two-time All-American. She was the unanimous pick for Big East attack player of the year. She is a two-time member of the All Big East First Team. She is a candidate for the Tewaaraton Trophy, lacrosse’s answer to the Heisman Trophy. She is the nation’s sixth leading point scorer and the eighth leading goal scorer. She is the Hoyas’ leading scorer this season with 56 and points leader with 78 through the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She is also one of the Hoyas’ tri-captains.

There’s only one title left that Elbe wants to add, national champion, and she’ll get her chance this weekend as the Hoyas return to the Final Four for the second consecutive year starting today in Baltimore, Md., against Cornell.

It’s a title she wants so badly that these days Elbe is thinking of nothing but winning it – not even graduation, which she and her fellow seniors will miss if they advance to Sunday’s championship game against the winner of the North Carolina-Princeton game. “It’s definitely worth it,” Elbe said. “I’d rather be with my team – I’m still going to graduate.”

The psychology major hasn’t even thought about what she’s going to do after graduation: “I’m trying to focus on this weekend,” she said.

For Elbe, a championship would be the completion of a career at Georgetown that has coincided with the four most successful years of the program’s history, culminating in a pair of Final Four trips. It would also mark the culmination of Georgetown’s rise to the heights of the women’s lacrosse world. “It would move everything along,” Elbe said. “Each year we’ve gotten a little bit better.”

The Hoyas almost reached the highest of plateaus last year when they were outlasted in double overtime by the six-time defending champion Maryland Terrapins in the finals of the NCAA Tournament, 14-13. A pair of Elbe shots in the closing seconds narrowly missed the cage, and the Hoyas fell just short of completing an epic comeback that saw them overcome an early 8-1 deficit.

Elbe calls that loss the most disappointing moment in her lacrosse career, which began when Elbe was in eighth grade in Garden City, Long Island, N.Y. “I thought we were going to win,” she said. “I’m glad I’ve had a second chance.”

Elbe chose Georgetown over Vanderbilt and the University of Virginia because she appreciated the way Head Coach Kim Simons and the rest of the staff recruited her. “They were so nice to me . ever since I was recruited here I’ve wanted to be a part of that,” she said. Since then, she has grown into the Hoyas’ number one offensive option on a team littered with standouts. “Whatever it is that we need, she is capable of doing,” Simons said. “She has a knack for knowing where to be and where to put the ball.”

She also has the ability to completely take a game over, as Lafayette learned when Elbe and junior attack Wick Stanwick unleashed an offensive torrent on the unwitting Leopards in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when the score was knotted at four in the early going.

But Elbe’s impact goes beyond her own talent and offensive output; her mere presence on the field makes everyone around her better because teams expend so much effort shutting down the explosive Elbe and her partner in crime, Stanwick.

“People concentrate on them; if everybody’s doubled then someone’s open,” senior tri-captain Kristin Raneri said. “The great thing about our team is that everybody can be dangerous,” senior goalie Chandler Vicchio said. Proof positive of that depth came in Sunday’s convincing 11-4 victory over Duke in which the Blue Devils kept Elbe in check with just two goals thanks to some aggressive double-teaming. The rest of the Hoya offense picked up the slack, with juniors Stanwick, Liz Ryan and Tracy Weickel and sophomores Anouk Peters and Gloria Lozano all contributing goals.

“She leads everyone on the field,” Raneri said.

Elbe says that each of the three captains – Elbe, Raneri and junior defender Melissa Biles – have shared the leadership responsibilities. “The three of us work so well together,” she said. “We’ve done a really good job.”

Still, Elbe recognizes that she has become the leader of the offensive unit since the departure of All-Everything Sheehan Stanwick (MSB ’01), who holds the school records in career and single-season goals, assists and total points. “I’ve definitely had to become more of a vocal leader,” Elbe said.

Elbe will finish her Georgetown career this weekend with numbers approaching Stanwick’s, which is to say, indisputably phenomenal. She is second all-time in career goals with 209, second in total points with 288 and third in assists with 79. With numbers as gaudy as those, it is not surprising that she was chosen Hoya Sports Female Athlete of the Year from a graduating class that boasts a slew of talented athletes.

“Having Erin on my team gives me tremendous confidence,” Simons said.

But Elbe knows that she has one last bridge to cross before her career draws to a close. “[My career] has been unbelievable and it’s not over now,” she said, referring to this weekend’s Final Four. “They’re going to be the best games we’ll ever play.”

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