Dave Urick moved from the top of one lacrosse ladder to the bottom of another. When he lived in rural upstate New York, his wife joked that their neighbors were cows. Now she wishes him luck on his commute from their home in Fairfax, Va., to his job in Washington.
It's good that Urick has grown accustomed to crowds, because he's going to work before about 25,000 Saturday at Byrd Stadium. The NCAA men's lacrosse final four returns to its customary home at the University of Maryland, but it definitely has a new look in the Georgetown program that Urick built basically from scratch over the past decade.
"This has simply been a process of maturation," Urick said. "Nothing happened overnight. There was no blueprint, no timetable, when I was hired."
In 1989, Georgetown's collegiate lacrosse history consisted of two decades of low budgets and losing records. The athletic department wanted to expand its horizons beyond basketball and track and field, and it committed to joining the handful of Division I programs which fully fund lacrosse.
Urick was the king of Division III, having guided Hobart in Geneva, N.Y., to 10 consecutive NCAA titles. He wasn't necessarily restless, but he was also 41 years old, and if he was going to make a change, the time was right. When then-athletic director Frank Rienzo told him of Georgetown's plans, Urick warmed to the challenge.
Urick had been the football coach for five years at Hobart, and the organizational skills there were tested at Georgetown.
"My first year here, my office was a little bigger than the desk I have now," Urick said. "When I started, I didn't have a full-time assistant. We phased in a couple of scholarships each of the first four years and got around to upgrading just about everything, but things were pretty modest at the start."
All three of Urick's children have played lacrosse for Georgetown, Holly and Mindy for women's teams that made the NCAAs and Scott for his father. A senior, Scott is the Hoyas' second-leading scorer, but when he was 12 years old he asked his father, "What are we doing here?" on the bus ride back from a scrimmage loss at Navy -- to the plebes.
Two years later, the product had improved, not that anyone noticed.
"My freshman year , we opened against Boston College, on this artificial turf field we had that was falling apart," said Chris Remington, one of Urick's first big recruits. "It was snowing, and there weren't 10 people in the stands. I remember asking myself, 'Did I make the right decision coming here?' It was a reality check."
By the time Remington was a senior in 1995, he owned the school scoring records, the Hoyas were ranked 11th and they came excruciatingly close to being selected to the NCAA field.
"For me, the frustration came when we got close to the tournament but couldn't get in," Urick said. "We were making progress, attracting quality people and toughening up the schedule, but being on the bubble and not making it, that was tough."
There were still rungs to climb.
Urick spent 18 years at Hobart, in the shadows of Syracuse. When Georgetown beat the Orangemen in the second game of the 1997 season, he knew the Hoyas had turned a corner. Georgetown finally made the tournament that year, then won its first NCAA game last season. Its semifinal opponent is Syracuse, a team it beat by four goals three weeks ago.
Freshman midfielder Steve Dusseau was a prized recruit out of Columbus, Ohio, but some unlikely heroes have Georgetown two wins away from an NCAA title.
Brian Hole, a three-year starter in the goal, was set to play basketball and lacrosse at Division III Gettysburg before his mother got Urick to make a second recruiting call. Greg McCavera broke Remington's school records for goals and points, but some programs thought he was too small to make it in Division I.
Urick's Hobart dynasty was fast and physical, but his early Georgetown teams weren't equipped to play run-and-gun. These Hoyas scored 17 goals on both Syracuse in the regular season and Duke in the quarterfinals.
Syracuse is in its 17th straight final four. Johns Hopkins has a record seven Division I titles. Virginia is in its eighth final four. Georgetown is the outsider, but Urick's experience must count for something. In his last 16 years at Hobart, he coached in 15 NCAA title games. He is one of four coaches who have won as many as 10 straight NCAA titles in any sport.
Since the Division I tournament expanded to 12 teams in 1987, no team seeded below the top four has won an NCAA title. The Hoyas are seeded No. 5, but Dave Urick has been right at home making history.
Men's final four
At College Park
Syracuse (11-4) vs.
Georgetown (13-2), noon
Johns Hopkins (11-2) vs.
Virginia (11-3), 3 p.m.
Monday's championship 10: 55 a.m., ESPN
Friday: Johns Hopkins
Georgetown at a glance
Enrollment: 6,177 undergraduate
Tournament history: The Hoyas made their NCAA debut in 1997, when they lost in the first round. Last year, they advanced to the quarterfinals.
How they got here: The fifth seed beat unseeded Notre Dame, 14-10, in the first round, and fourth-seeded Duke, 17-14, in the quarterfinals.
Coach: Dave Urick. 10th season at Georgetown, 93-41; 20 seasons overall, 215-71.
Best game: The Hoyas were up 17-10 on Duke last Saturday.
Worst game: Georgetown lost at Navy, 12-11, in overtime April 3.
Scoring leader: Greg McCavera, 45.
Assist leader: Greg McCavera, 41.
Faceoff specialist: Scott Baughman, 73-130, .562 pct.
Goalie: Brian Hole, .617 save pct.
Pub Date: 5/25/99