Fall Ball Focus: Georgetown Ended 2022 With Questions in Need of Answers

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

TJ Haley posted 11 goals and 30 assists as a sophomore in 2022.


It would be tempting for Georgetown coach Kevin Warne to tell his team to bury last year’s NCAA tournament exit.

But who would he be kidding? Certainly not himself. A summer of replaying the 10-9 first-round loss to Delaware and everything that led up to it in his mind during several recruiting trips up and down the New Jersey Turnpike remains a fresh memory.

“You hear both sides of how to handle that,” Warne said. “We told our guys we can’t dwell on it, but don’t forget. It’s something we talked about. Our guys have kept it pretty simple. Yes, there’s new faces, new roles, but you also learn from your experiences. It’s been a good thing for us to refocus just on what we need to do on a day-to-day basis.”

And so the Hoyas have two realities, past and present. They became the fifth No. 2 seed to lose a first-round game, joining 2007 Virginia, 2010 and 2014 Syracuse and 2016 Denver. And they have a new look thanks to an aggressive approach on the transfer market.

So much of Warne’s Hilltop revival was done with a traditional model: Recruit and develop, a process on a loop that began with taking some lumps but ultimately produced a successful and veteran team.

With five starters departing after last season, the Hoyas needed experience. They found some in the likes of former Syracuse star Tucker Dordevic and ex-Dartmouth goalie Daniel Hincks, among others.

There’s also a staff change. Offensive coordinator Michael Phipps left for Navy, and Warne hired John Hogan away from Richmond. That alone makes this an intriguing fall for Georgetown, which will concentrate on methodical player development and will not have an outside scrimmage. 

LAST SEASON

Things went great for Georgetown in 2022, right up until they didn’t.

It’s difficult to nitpick a team that faced top-tier external expectations for the first time in a decade and a half and went 15-1 in the regular season. Its imposing defense more than did its part, and a potent starting six on offense produced five 25-goal scorers and three players with at least 25 assists.

Only three of the triumphs (visits to Penn and Lehigh, as well as the Big East tournament final against Villanova) came by a margin of less than five goals. Even in the regular-season loss, the Hoyas committed 22 turnovers against Princeton and were still down only a goal with eight minutes to go.

Georgetown earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and appeared to have a favorable path to its first Memorial Day Weekend appearance since 1999 — at least until its first-round loss to Delaware. Instead of taking the next logical step forward after a quarterfinal trip the year before, the Hoyas ended the year with more questions than they’d faced all spring.







BIGGEST FALL QUESTION

Can Georgetown generate more depth?

In some ways, the most jarring part of the box score from the Hoyas’ season-ending loss isn’t the poor shooting or the nine turnovers in the second half of a fairly slow-paced game.

Instead, it’s noticing that Warne used only eight reserves — three short stick defensive midfielders, two poles, a faceoff man and one offensive midfielder, plus two-way midfielder Dylan Hess — against the Blue Hens.

“You can’t win like that,” Warne said. “We played 18 guys in a playoff game. That’s not going to cut it.”

Coaches love to talk about using more players. Most find it difficult to dole out high-leverage minutes to more guys as a season unfolds, which places a greater onus on beginning a year with a larger group of regulars. The process of getting to that point begins in the fall.

MARQUEE ADDITION: TUCKER DORDEVIC

As the unofficial offseason transfer portal champions, the Hoyas have plenty of veteran newcomers to choose from, including North Carolina imports Jacob Kelly and Nicky Solomon, as well as the imposing 6-foot-5 Hincks in the cage.

But there’s no reason to get cute here. Dordevic is a sixth-year player who has been a third-team All-America selection as both a midfielder (2021) and an attackman (2022) at Syracuse.

“Tucker has all the ability in the world,” Warne said. “He played a new position last year, and then he comes here. We’re trying to figure out how to make him his best and how that can help us.”

Translation: There’s a lot of ways the Portland, Ore., product could fit in. Nonetheless, it’s tempting to think he could be a plug-and-play solution on attack. After all, he scored 47 goals last spring. Dylan Watson, who left as a graduate transfer for Jacksonville, had 58 goals for the Hoyas last season.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: WILL TOMINOVICH

There wasn’t much variance at the defensive end last season, and for good reason. The Hoyas allowed just 8.18 goals per game, the fewest in Division I, and had the top goalie (Owen McElroy) and defenseman (Will Bowen) and also trotted out a third-team All-America defenseman (Gibson Smith IV) and an honorable mention pick in long stick midfielder Alex Mazzone.

James Donaldson was a sturdy, reliable third defenseman, which meant Tominovich didn’t play a prominent role even as he got into all but one game and forced 10 turnovers. Smith graduated, creating a vacancy in the lineup.

“He started when Gibby was hurt in ’21,” Warne said. “He played a ton as a freshman, didn’t play a lot last year and quite honestly, he’s a guy we need to play well for us to be successful.”

While Tominovich is the logical successor to Smith and could join Bowen and Donaldson on the starting close defense. Mazzone’s move to Johns Hopkins as a grad transfer opens up a spot at pole. Junior Wallace Halpert, who caused 15 turnovers in a reserve role last season, is the early favorite to claim that job.

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