Following a heartbreaking 9-8 loss to Marquette (6-1, 1-0 Big East) this past weekend, the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team (1-8, 0-1 Big East) will take on No. 4 Denver (7-1) at home this Saturday. The Hoyas’ game against the Golden Eagles was decided in the final seconds — freshman attack Chris Donovan scored what would have been a game-tying ninth goal, but it was waved off due to a shot clock violation with only eight seconds remaining in the game.
Sophomore midfielder Craig Berge, who tied his career high with three goals in the loss, acknowledged the adversity the team faced in its most recent game and throughout the season.
“Marquette was a tough ending and a tough way to lose, but you’d rather lose those games than get blown out by 10 goals,” Berge said. “We learned a lot from it, learned that we have to get out to quicker start and not go down and put ourselves in a hole. But, you know, if we end up losing a game, we have to take that opportunity in the future to win and forget about the past.”
Georgetown will move forward in Big East play against conference favorite and defending national champion Denver. The Pioneers have been ranked in the top five throughout the season and have not lost a conference game since joining the Big East in 2013. Denver opens its conference schedule against Georgetown after suffering its first loss of the season to No. 18 Penn State (6-3, 0-0 Big East) last Saturday.
Head Coach Kevin Warne stressed that the game plan against the Pioneers is not overly complicated and that simplicity is key in overcoming the challenge Denver presents for Georgetown.
“I think, as we talked about, our margin for error is pretty small this year. So we have to really dig in and be disciplined and be really really fundamental and make everything really simple,” Warne said. “I think that’s how you have to do it. You can’t go crazy trying to have some weird scientist game plan. You have got to keep it simple, have a few keys and let your guys fly around.”
Denver’s ability to score goals is no secret: It currently ranks eighth in the country in scoring offense, led by junior attack Connor Cannizzaro, who is in his second year at Denver after transferring from the University of Maryland after his freshman season. He had a breakout first season for the Pioneers in 2015, setting their single season points record with 57 goals and 33 assists. He has continued his success this year, tallying 34 points so far this season as the centerpiece of Denver’s offense. The high-powered attack also features two other Tewaaraton Watchlist members, junior midfielders Tyler Pace and Zach Miller, rounding out an elite unit that averages 13.13 goals per game.
Georgetown will look to slow down Denver’s efficient attack to keep the game within reach.
“They’re going to score goals. I think the one thing is, how can we limit them, how can we help [sophomore goalkeeper] Nick Marrocco see the shots he needs to see,” Warne said. “We’re going to do some things schematically to make them work a little more, but we understand they’re going to play offense for a minute and a half, two minutes at a time.”
Since joining the Big East, the Pioneers have gotten the better of the Hoyas, sitting on the winning end of a 3-0 record the last two seasons. The most recent matchup between the two teams came in last season’s Big East championship game when the Hoyas fell 16-8.
Despite Denver’s recent success and elite status, Berge said that Georgetown’s players are approaching this game just like every other game on the schedule.
“I think we have to attack it like every other game. We’ve played top-five ranked teams all year, and we’re not going to come out scared,” Berge said. “Obviously they’re the defending national champs and a great team, that’s no secret, but that means we need to capitalize in every area — whether that’s offense, defense, face-offs and in the cage. We just have to give our individual best effort for the team and that gives us the best chance to win.”
Warne said Denver presents a great opportunity for his team to face yet another high-caliber opponent, and the team is excited to prove itself against a top conference rival.
“The guys are getting excited to show off our product and what we can do and play to our potential on national TV,” Warne said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The Hoyas will host the Pioneers at Cooper Field this Saturday. Opening faceoff is set for 11 a.m., and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
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