April 15, 2009

Hoyas Have Inside Track on Big East

by Brian Delaney | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Jordy Kirr has scored 29 goals and dished 15 assists as a key cog Georgetown's three-headed monster on attack that also includes team scoring leader Molly Ford and All-American Ashby Kaestner.
© Georgetown University

When coach Ricky Fried assesses the body of work put forth by this year's Georgetown women's lacrosse team, he sees, quite simply, an indefinable but tangible edge.

In his mind, it's what separates the 2009 Hoyas from his recent teams.

"Georgetown has probably been known as a smart and skilled team, which isn't in and of itself a bad thing, but this senior class really wanted the team to be known as athletic as well as those other things," said Fried, in his sixth season as coach. "They want to make sure we're athletic and playing with people, so they play with a little bit of an edge and they really enjoy playing with each other."

With two Big East Conference games remaining, the sixth-ranked Hoyas (10-3, 5-0) have the inside track to the top seed for this year's conference tournament, which they will host on April 24 and 26. No. 8 Syracuse (10-3, 5-1) and No. 10 Notre Dame (11-3, 4-2) have clinched berths to the four-team tournament, while Rutgers (7-8, 3-3), No. 16 Loyola (9-4, 2-3) and Connecticut (2-12, 2-4) are still alive for the final spot.

Georgetown can clinch the top seed with a win on Wednesday afternoon at Loyola, but Fried understands the Greyhounds' dangerous nature.

"They play free, they play loose, they really enjoy playing with each other on the offensive end," he said. "They share the ball tremendously well. Grace Gavin is obviously one of their go-to players, but they get a lot of points from a lot of different people."

In Georgetown, the Greyhounds are facing a team that thrives in pressure situations. From the Hoyas' 12-11 win over No. 5 Duke in mid-March, to a 14-12 victory over Notre Dame on March 27, to the 11-10 four overtime epic over Syracuse on April 3, team after team has stepped to line only to be swept away by Fried's charges.

The Syracuse game, in particular, exhibited that "edge." The Hoyas trailed 10-6 late before ripping off five straight to beat the defending champs.

The goal now is to apply that developed poise to the postseason.

"The biggest thing for us coaches is that our team has played with a lot of tenacity," Fried said, "played with a lot of fight. We'd been trying to get them to play in the moment, as opposed to worrying about the score and how much time is left."

The attack, at this point, is well-established. Molly Ford's 38 goals and 10 assists lead the team, with Jordy Kirr's 29 goals and 15 assists, and first-team All-American midfielder Ashby Kaestner's 27 goals and 12 assists giving opposing coaches fits. Senior captain Bridget Noon has been pivotal on the defensive end, leading the Hoyas in ground balls and ranking in the top two in draw controls and caused turnovers, while junior goalie Caitlin Formby's contributions have largely gone "overlooked," Fried said.

Georgetown's last trip to the final four came in 2004, Fried's first season. That goal remains light years away.

The focus now is solely on the conference tournament, which potentially gives the winner two top-10 victories to add to its NCAA tournament seeding resume. With the event scheduled smack-dab in the middle of exams, Fried is relieved the Hoyas can host.

"It's pretty exciting for a multitude of reasons," he said. "One, to get an opportunity to play at home, and we added lights this year. The ability to not have to travel during exam time -- that wears on teams, so that's a huge benefit for us. And it's an opportunity to show Georgetown off to the lacrosse community."

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