No. 6 Hoyas Clobber No. 5 Tar Heels

By Sean Gormley Hoya Staff Writer

The North Carolina Tar Heels rolled into Georgetown Saturday, looking for revenge for their ousting in last year’s NCAA tournament at the hands of the Hoyas. Georgetown was not about to let that happen, and sent North Carolina away with a 13-7 loss in a game in which the Hoyas simply outclassed the then No. 5 ranked ‘Heels.

On a day windy enough to blow over the temporary chain-link fence behind the far goal, the Hoyas came out with an abundance of energy and a great gameplan that overwhelmed the Tar Heels. Georgetown scored early and often to build up a 6-0 first half lead that North Carolina would never come close to threatening.

“They’re physical, they’re fast and they have more depth then us. They had a lot of things that could have hurt us,” Head Coach Kim Simons said of North Carolina’s talented squad that nonetheless struggled against Georgetown.

Sophomore All-American attacker Erin Elbe opened up the scoring five minutes in on a drive towards the goal, the first of her three goals on the day. Elbe’s goals came on only three shots.

“We practiced shooting for the past week,” Elbe said, explaining Georgetown’s exceptional shooting, with the Hoyas scoring 13 goals on 20 shots.

“We spread things out because their D was so tight,” Elbe added. This resulted in more open looks at the net than Georgetown had seen in earlier losses to highly ranked teams.

That exceptional shooting continued a few minutes later with junior middie Sarah Oglesby finding the back of the net off of a beautiful feed from Elbe. Junior All-American attacker Sheehan Stanwick then took over the game, scoring two of the Hoyas’ next three games.

Sheehan’s first came by driving right past the Carolina defender and slamming the ball into the upper corner of the net, with her second coming on a behind-the-back shot that completely fooled freshman Tar Heel goalie Margaret Garofalo. Garofalo would be yanked minutes later following a score by sophomore attack Kristen Baer that made the score 6-0, Georgetown, with 8:37 remaining in the first half.

“They started a freshman today, which kind of gave us an extra boost . we got in her head early, which kind of broke them down. When you have to put a goalie in, in the middle of the first half, that’s not easy,” Simons said.

After changing goalies, a North Carolina score at 3:04 would wrap up the first half scoring, ending a remarkable 27-minute stretch in which the Hoya defense and goaltending was able to hold the ‘Heels scoreless. Their only first half score came on a putback after junior Hoya goalie Bowen Holden had made one save, making the halftime score 6-1, but Carolina had ended the Georgetown run and was still within reach.

Holden’s play in net was essential to Georgetown jumping out to the lead in the game, with Bowen stopping a pair of early free position shots that kept North Carolina from taking control of the game early on. On the day, Holden came up with 15 saves while only allowing seven goals, six of which came after the Hoyas had already opened up an 8-1 lead.

“Bowen is a big gameday player . from the second I saw her this morning, she looked like she was focused on one thing, and that’s exactly how she played. It was huge. As well as we played, it still could have been a game if she didn’t play as strong as she did in between the pipes,” Simons said. “She has the ability to be one of, if not the, best keepers in the country when she plays like that.”

If things were still in question at the half, Georgetown quickly resolved that with a pair of goals in the first two minutes of the second half. Sophomore attack Kate Ahearn opened up the scoring on a free position shot, the first of her two goals, both of which came off of free positions. Susan Stewart followed up by driving all the way down the field and scoring just 13 seconds after Ahearn’s score to give Georgetown their largest lead, 8-1.

“On the attack, everyone is a threat. When they go to double one particular person, like Elbe or Sheehan, others step up and can score,” Ahearn said. “We had to break their trap at midfield and keep the ball on the offensive side of the field, which we did.”

“There were no superstars . we were playing so well together as a unit. On offense, you had a whole bunch of people scoring and stepping up,” Simons said. “I have to hand it to the team. We’ve been hard on them about being disciplined and making sure they are running the gameplan, and today that’s what they did, and that’s why we won.”

The variety in the offense continued throughout the second half, with junior middies Caitlin McLean and Reagan Raneri adding scores for Georgetown. The exclamation point on the Hoyas’ victory, however, came from their All-American duo. With 10:40 remaining in the game, Stanwick set up behind the goal and tossed a perfect pass to Elbe, catching her mid-stride for a clean drive towards the crease, with Elbe finishing it off with a rifle into the back of the net for a 12-5 lead.

Elbe’s third tally on the day wrapped up Georgetown’s scoring on the day, finishing up the Hoyas’ 13-7 victory, and Holden held the ball in the crease as time ran out on Georgetown’s biggest victory of the season.

“The three things we focused on coming into this game were that we had to play hard, play together and play smart,” Simons said.

The Hoyas did that and then some in their victory. The win flip-flopped Georgetown and North Carolina in the new women’s lacrosse poll, with the Hoyas rising to No. 5, their highest ranking ever, while the Tar Heels dropped to No. 6.

The win was kept in perspective, however.

“It was big, but we do have two big games coming up,” Ahearn said, speaking of upcoming games against top-ranked Maryland on Thursday and No. 3 James Madison next Saturday

“My goal and hope is that this team has taken a step in terms of confidence. We know that we’re good enough to compete with aryland, it’s just the whole mental aspect of playing such a strong team that has done really well year in and year out,” Simons said. “The biggest thing for us is to make sure we’re ready to play mentally.”

If they are mentally ready, don’t be surprised to see the Hoyas come out on top. Winners of four games in a row and sporting their highest ranking ever, Georgetown is in prime position to upset the No. 1-ranked Terrapins.

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