After a year fraught with challenges and loss, the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team seeks to build a new legacy in the months ahead — one that reverses the tide of a disappointing 2016 campaign and honors a fallen teammate in what would have been his final season on the Hilltop.
This year, the team looks to honor Edward Blatz Jr., who passed away unexpectedly April 24, 2016, days before the team’s final game of the season against St. John’s. Blatz was a junior defender on the team who started in 17 games and appeared in 25 during his career.
Head Coach Kevin Warne said that as the program begins its next chapter, it is keeping Blatz’s memory close.
“As we turn the page, we’re moving forward as a program, but we’ll always have him in our hearts while we play,” Warne said. “I told the guys that we don’t want to play for him; we want to play with him. … It’s the right way to honor him so that he can finish out his senior year with his class. The guys seem to be very responsive to that and excited to do that for him.”
Warne also emphasized the importance of teambuilding as the program looks ahead to the new season.
“We spent a lot of time in the fall building culture, just addressing trust and relationships. … If you care about your teammate, you know you’re going to go through a wall for him, and I think we’re starting to see that in the camaraderie on the field. The whole vibe is just a lot different, and it’s very exciting for us as we move forward,” Warne said.
In 2016, after entering the season with a strong No. 14 preseason ranking, Georgetown plummeted to a 2-12 record, notching a single nonconference win over then-No. 8 Hofstra and one win in Big East play against Providence. The season was a large departure from the team’s 10-6 finish in 2015, which culminated in a Big East championship appearance.
After dealing with numerous injuries, position changes and shifting roles on the team, Warne says the coaching staff is now better equipped to handle the challenges it may see during the 2017 season.
“We basically saw every situation we needed to see in coaching last year — with guys switching positions every two weeks, this and that. But now, what you’re seeing on the field is that nobody is injured right now, guys are coming back from injuries and when guys start playing together they start to develop that continuity. Practice has a flow to it,” Warne said.
Aiding in rebuilding Georgetown’s team culture are the team’s four upperclassmen captains: senior midfielder Nick Carpenter, redshirt junior attack Peter Conley, senior defender Charlie Ford and senior defender Michael Mayer, who all step into important leadership roles both on and off the field for the Hoyas.
Conley returns in full health after missing significant portions of the last two seasons due to injuries. During his rookie season in 2014, Conley led Georgetown in scoring with 24 goals and 37 points.
All four captains bring a wealth of experience to the table from all areas of the field, but Warne said that one of their most valuable contributions has been their varying leadership styles.
“The best thing about them is that each one of them has a different personality. … You hear at least one of them in practice, sometimes it’s by example, sometimes it’s by voice, and it’s very positive,” Warne said.
Georgetown also returns many high-powered underclassmen, including sophomore attack Daniel Bucaro, the 2016 Big East Freshman of the Year. Bucaro paced the Georgetown offense with 18 goals and 13 assists during his freshman season.
On the defensive end, junior goalkeeper Nick Marrocco returns to anchor the Hoyas in the net. A 2017 preseason All-Big East pick, Marrocco has started every game for Georgetown since the beginning of his freshman year and has consistently ranked toward the top of the conference in saves and save percentage. Marrocco finished the 2016 season with 11.57 saves per game.
After months of fall practice and two preseason scrimmages, Georgetown opens its official schedule this afternoon against High Point (0-1) in High Point, N.C. The game kicks off a challenging nonconference slate that includes formidable yet familiar rivals, including No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 12 Towson, No. 10 Duke (1-0) and No. 5 Loyola (0-1). The Hoyas will play seven teams that made appearances in the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Warne said he looks forward to facing off against the tough nonconference rivals in preparation for competitive Big East play at the end of the season.
“We’ve learned from our experiences in the past that anybody can beat anybody in college lacrosse. It’s proven now, and we know we’re going to get every team’s best effort, and we need to give our best effort. If we play hard and do all the right things, I’ll be satisfied,” Warne said.
High Point enters today’s matchup after a 10-5 loss in its season opener against Duke. Opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m.
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