(Photo Courtesy of Georgetown Athletics)
*Note: This article was contributed by Steve Gagliardi, founder of LaxFarmer.com*
In a year of ruthlessly competitive Division I programs brimming with talent at every position, the Georgetown Hoyas have managed to cement themselves as the No. 2 team in the nation heading into the NCAA playoffs. Sporting a 15-1 record with wins over Penn, Johns Hopkins, and Denver, it’s the best in program history. Equipped with the nation’s best defense, the Hoyas are more than poised for success in the NCAA Tournament. But where did it all come from? It was only five years ago that Georgetown was coming off a pathetic 2-12 season. Let’s dive deeper into Georgetown’s roster and break down what exactly makes this team so tenacious.
An Unstoppable Defense
The Georgetown defense is, statistically speaking, the top defense in the nation on several fronts. Here are a few team stats that will blow your hair back…
- Number one Scoring Defense (8.06 goals against per game)
- Number two in Ground Balls per game (38.12)
- Number seven in Caused Turnovers per Game (10.06)
- Number 13 in Clearing Percentage (88% success rate)
This team is equipped with a defensive unit that is as sound as they come. With pro-level talent at each position, the Hoyas’ defense has brilliant chemistry when it comes to communicating, rotating, and executing efficient two slides to the ball. Their close defenders know how to torment attackmen, their LSMs are turnover-causing machines, and with the best short-stick defensive midfielder in the country, they gobble up loose ground balls that give their offense a significant possession advantage.
Owen McElroy – Goalie
Leading his team between the pipes, Owen McElroy has been stellar this season. A First Team All-American, he was recently drafted to the Chrome LC as the 25th pick in the PLL College Draft. McElroy has the 2nd best save percentage in the country at 62%, sitting behind only St. Bonaventure’s Brett Dobson. While it is a toss-up, I think that McElroy has had the superior season, simply due to the sheer competition Georgetown has faced when compared to the Bonnies. With McElroy’s wide base and athletic posture, he plays similar to a Jack Concannon in the cage. He even appears to be making stops with an Eclipse 2, which is one of the best lacrosse goalie heads in the game.
Zach Geddes – SSDM
Going 8th overall in this year’s PLL draft, Zach Geddes has been a stud. He and his fellow D-middies have been nothing short of a problem for offensive midfielders this season. While it may not show on the stat sheet, Geddes plays with a level of intensity and poise that often frustrates offenses. He can run with any midfielder in the game without overcommitting and losing his step. He’s an elite cover defender that can switch and adjust on the fly. And lastly, he is a dynamic threat in transition, unafraid to dish or take it to the cage on a fast break. Geddes is a difference-maker in the middle of the field, which is why he was so well-favored in the PLL draft.
Will Bowen – D
First Team All-American Will Bowen transferred to Georgetown from North Carolina following last season. And it’s safe to say he’s been on an absolute tear since joining the Kevin Warne’s squad, averaging 2.12 caused turnovers a game (6th in the nation). Standing at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Bowen is an elite cover defender and off-ball defenseman that simply terrorizes attackmen. Even though he can thwart offensives with his pure size and athleticism, Bowen often plays a very cerebral game. He can predict and anticipate passes and schemes before they happen. If you’d like to get better at picking off mid-air passes like Bowen, check out the best defensive lacrosse heads on the market.
Gibson Smith – D
Senior captain Gibson Smith is the final staple of the Georgetown defense. Outside of their faceoff man (James Reilly), Gibson Smith leads the Hoyas in groundballs with 52 on the season. Imagine playing a team where one defender is averaging 2 caused turnovers a game and the other is averaging more than 3 ground balls a game! That gives the Hoyas’ offense a massive advantage and multiple free possessions to play with each game. In a highly competitive environment at the Division I level, those few extra possessions can make or break a season.
An Skillful Offense
Even though Georgetown is led by the strength of the defense, they’re surprisingly well-balanced in the offensive zone. Here are some astounding team stats stemming from the O:
- Fifth-ranked Scoring Offense (15.44 goals per game)
- Ranked fifth in Faceoff Winning Percentage (.589)
- Sixth in Assists per Game (8.94)
Graham Bundy, Jr.
First Team All-American Graham Bundy, Jr. leads the Georgetown Hoyas in points…as a midfielder. Only Junior, he is easily one of the top midfielders in college lacrosse. He largely operates from up top and has the strength and skill to use his body to lean into defenders and drop hard, overhand shots from outside. This is a pro-level skill set that not many young midfielders are equipped with. If any team this postseason hopes to end Georgetown’s hopes at a national title, they need to figure out a way to shut down Bundy.
A Canadian with a box background, Dylan Watson is one of those exceptional finishers in front of the net. With 58 goals this season, Watson is the go-to look on the crease when dodgers are drawing a hot slide. Fun fact, Watson graduated high school from the Hill Academy with Brett Dobson, Josh Zawada, Dyson Williams, and Justin Inacio; just a couple of names you might recognize in the D1 landscape 😉.
Tying it All Together
As the Hoyas head into their NCAA first round contest against Delaware, they are more prepared than ever to make a national title run. Although Georgetown hasn’t made it past the quarterfinals since 1999, they should have a clear path to Championship Weekend this season. They’ll play what should be an easy tune-up against Delaware, and then have to either face Cornell or Ohio State – both tough but beatable teams. With a lockdown defensive unit stacked with All-American and pro-bound talent, combined with a skillfully efficient offense that takes advantage of those extra possessions, the Georgetown Hoyas are simply one of the most daunting teams to go up against.
Steve Gagliardi is the founder of LaxFarmer.com – the premier online resource for finding the best lacrosse gear, equipment, and footwear. With 10+ years of lacrosse and brand-building experience, Steve is passionate about growing the game’s digital landscape through content, product, and partnerships. Steve lives in Austin, TX and you can connect with him on Twitter, @SteveGagz.