As most of campus empties out for spring break, the No. 6 Georgetown women’s lacrosse team is preparing for its season opener against No. 2 Northwestern. The Hoyas will host a Wildcat squad that has already notched three wins on the road against No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 3 UNC and No. 11 Vanderbilt.

Georgetown’s depth and balance will be the keys to success this season and against Northwestern as the Hoyas look to repeat last year’s Big East regular season championship and go even further in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The team returns six starters and 21 letter-winners from last year’s squad and boasts the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation.

Starting on attack for the Hoyas will be three experienced seniors, including captain Jordy Kirr, a three-time all-Big East honoree who currently sits on the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch list. Kirr, the Blue and Gray’s third leading score last year, is hoping to improve on a 2010 campaign in she notched 30 goals and 17 assists. She will be joined down low by fellow seniors attack Jacqueline Giles and attack Kathleen Dwyer, as well as sophomore attack Dina Jackson.

In the midfield, Georgetown has two skilled and speedy lines that will split time and give the team an advantage against a series of tough opponents. The first line includes senior captain Mary Beth Brophy and freshmen Kelyn Freedman and Hannah Franklin. Brophy started every game for the Hoyas last year and tallied 12 goals and two assists.

Freedman and Franklin are great examples of the ready-to-contribute kind of talent Head Coach Ricky Fried recruited last year. Both were ranked in the top 20 attacks coming out of high school, with Freedman the top recruit in the nation and Franklin checking in at No. 19 according to Inside Lacrosse.

Defensively, senior captain and defender Logan McCraw and junior defender Kelly Barnes return to the starting lineup alongside junior defender Carly Napora and sophomore defender Ashley Hunter. McCraw was an All-American honoree last year and a first team all-Big East selection, while Barnes was an all-Big East honoree and a Regional All-American. Along with fellow captain Kirr, both defenders have been named to the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List this season.

Senior goalkeeper Lauren Thomas will anchor the Hoyas in goal, while sophomore goalkeeper Abby Bisbee and freshman goalkeeper Barb Black are also likely to see significant playing time this season.

Five-time NCAA champion Northwestern will enter Saturday’s game with the advantage of four regular season games already under its belt. The Wildcats have once again proved to be a formidable offensive force, tallying 38 goals in their first three games, including seven in a thrilling overtime win against No. 3 UNC.

The Hoyas will focus on shutting down junior offensive powerhouse Shannon Smith, who has been in fine form since the beginning of the year, scoring four goals in Northwestern’s overtime win against UNC and notching two goals and three assists against Vanderbilt.

Georgetown will also be up against a solid Northwestern defense anchored by sophomore defender and midfield Taylor Thornton, who was recently named American Lacrosse Conference defensive player of the week after holding two All-Americans scoreless and scoring the game-winning goal in Northwestern’s overtime victory against UNC.

Face-off is set for this Saturday at 1 p.m. at MultiSport Facility.

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