A five-goal first-quarter deficit set the tone for the entirety of the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team’s (1-9, 0-2 Big East) Saturday home contest against No. 4 Denver (8 -1, 1-0 Big East), which ultimately ended in a 17-4 loss for the Hoyas — the team’s sixth consecutive loss.
The last time Georgetown met Denver on the lacrosse field was under an entirely different set of circumstances. The Pioneers and the Hoyas faced off May 2, 2015 in the Big East championship game as the No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Though Georgetown dropped the decision 16-8, the Hoyas had entered the championship game as the one team in the Big East with a chance to keep pace with the powerhouse team that would go on to win the national championship later in the month.
Now at the bottom of the conference standings with one win in 2016, the Hoyas have had to readjust many of their expectations this season.
Junior defender Charlie Ford said the team is taking this loss in stride.
“That’s the positive outlook from that game — the mistakes we made we can all fix, they’re easy to be fixed and we still have three league games to keep us in the big picture for the Big East tournament, and that’s our goal right now,” Ford said.
The Pioneer squad, which has been undefeated in Big East play since 2014, came out firing from the opening faceoff in Saturday’s contest. Five unanswered goals gave Denver a comfortable lead in the first quarter before Georgetown graduate student midfielder and co-captain Joe Bucci got on the board at 2:53. Georgetown focused on defense heading into the second period, managing to slow the Denver attack. However, the team could not find an answer on the offensive end, failing to put up another goal until after the half.
The Hoyas gave up two goals in the second quarter, spaced at the 9:03 and 1:44 marks, to gain some breathing room.
“We shoot ourselves in the foot,” Ford said of Georgetown’s tendency to give up early leads. “We’ve come out kind of the whole season slow in the first quarter … and then in the second quarter, especially in this game, we responded really well. We changed what we were doing on defense, and I thought we played some of the best defense we’ve actually played all year in the second quarter.”
Georgetown ended its scoring drought five minutes into the second half with an unassisted goal from freshman attack Chris Donovan, but Denver junior attack Connor Cannizzaro helped his team pull away with a larger lead, tallying both of his two goals and two of his five assists during the period to make the score 13-3 heading into the fourth quarter.
A staple on the Pioneer offense, Cannizzaro recorded more personal points during the game than Georgetown tallied the entire game. Cannizzaro, pacing Denver with 23 goals and 18 assists this season, can connect with open teammates as easily as he can connect with the back of the net.
Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Warne said that Denver excelled at spacing on offense and was quick to exploit defensive mistakes and open looks.
“They capitalized on a lot of miscues we had. They were just a step ahead on everything today. … If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it,” Warne said.
Georgetown scored one more goal in the last period, but four more goals tacked onto an already insurmountable Denver lead saw the game end at a decisive 17-4.
Though Denver’s attack kept Georgetown on its toes the entire game, taking a total of 48 shots during the contest, Georgetown’s defense remained steadfast. Sophomore goalkeeper Nick Marrocco made 13 saves, and Georgetown finished 11-of-25 at the faceoff X against Denver sophomore midfielder and faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste, who has consistently put up impressive numbers at the X and currently ranks seventh nationally with a .665 win percentage.
On the faceoffs that Georgetown did not win, its defense worked to collapse and stifle any quick Denver scoring opportunities.
“I thought our guys did a good job of making it a scrap [at the faceoff],” Warne said. “I thought we did a better job in the second quarter — if we did lose the faceoff, we stopped at first possession, so they didn’t really hurt us as much.”
Though the Hoyas have struggled in faceoffs this semester and still have room for growth, their efforts against the Pioneers showed an improvement in their strategy and performance at the X.
“Denver’s faceoff guy is consistently said to be the number one guy in the country, and I think [we] did an incredible job [against him]. I think we could have helped them out on the wings a little bit more … that’s an area we need to improve on, and I think they’re doing a great job at the X, it’s just a matter of the wings stepping up,” Ford said.
Next, Georgetown will host another Big East game against Providence (7-3, 1-0 Big East) this coming Saturday. The Friars will enter the matchup coming off a 15-10 win in their conference opener against St. John’s (1-9, 0-1 Big East).
Opening faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Cooper Field.
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