Mount St. Mary's at Georgetown: Three things to watch

Georgetown had won 14 consecutive games in this series until Mount St. Mary’s won 14-6 on March 12. It was the Mountaineers’ first victory over the Hoyas since 1991.

Mount St. Mary’s, which was on the wrong end of a 16-3 rout by No. 11 Maryland last Saturday, is trying to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2011. That task might be even more difficult considering the players who contributed to the 14 goals and six assists in last year’s win have all graduated.

This will be Georgetown’s season opener. Last spring, the Hoyas went 6-9 overall and 3-3 in the Big East, which was enough to qualify for the four-team conference tournament where they lost to Villanova in the semifinals. The team returns five starters, including a pair of attackmen in junior Reilly O’Connor and senior Jeff Fountain (St. Paul’s).

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Multi-Sport Field in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

1) Keeping the rock. The Mountaineers’ youth was exposed in Saturday’s loss to the Terps. Coach Tom Gravante noted that the team succeeded on just 9-of-15 clears, turned the ball over 20 times, and lost the ground ball battle, 49-19. Gravante said improving in those departments will be key if Mount St. Mary’s harbors any hope of another win in this series. “I want our guys to battle better than we did against Maryland in terms of some of those stats,” he said. “Several failed clears, 20-something turnovers that were worse as the game progressed. We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. If we take care of certain stats on the sheet, we’re going to play better lacrosse on Wednesday.”

2) Using faceoffs to jump-start the offense. Junior faceoff specialist Nick Haley did a passable job against Terps junior Charlie Raffa, winning 9-of-20 draws and scooping up two ground balls. Haley gets the unenviable task of clashing with Georgetown senior Tyler Knarr, who won 62.2 percent (184-of-296) of faceoffs last season and collected a program-record 112 ground balls. But Gravante is counting on Haley and improved play on clears to ignite a dormant offense. “If we improve our faceoff percentage and clears, we’ll be able to see more time of possession and get more offensive opportunities,” Gravante said. “We’ve adjusted our six-on-six offense and today, I think they really understood what we’re trying to do, and that’s all about execution. … I think if we can see that same execution, we’re going to get some great looks.”

3) Getting more from the midfield. Sophomore Robert Jones posted one goal and one assist against Maryland, but the rest of the starting midfield was quiet. Junior Clayton Wainer took just two shots, picked up one ground ball, and committed one turnover, and sophomore Evan Gormley took three shots. Gravante said the offense must find a way to spring the midfield, especially Wainer. “He’s going to draw the pole, and we need to do a better job of helping him, so that he can finish up a little bit,” Gravante said. “Set a pick on his pole and get them to slide. We practiced some things today in practice that are going to require not only him but other guys to challenge the pole and draw a slide. It’s part of the game, especially if you’re one of the guys that opponents are going to be after. … He still has to get his touches and his opportunities to the cage.”

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