The Washington Times - May 4, 2009, 04:56PM

The end of every season means a pending 10-minute meeting that rates among the most difficult and crammed of the year for Georgetown lacrosse coach Dave Urick.

It is, effectively, the final gathering of a year’s team. And this spring, it happened a few weeks earlier than anyone would have dreamed.

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The whirlwind discussion centered on what was expected over the summer (an emphasis placed on shooting, not surprising for a bunch that shot 22.9 percent) and a not-so-subtle reminder of the premature end of the season.

“Hopefully it set the tone for where we go from here,” Urick said. “Make sure they understood we’re going to re-evaluate every aspect of the program, whether that’s scheduling, the fall program, recruiting, what we’re doing individually, skill-wise, offense, defense, riding, clearing and personnel and whose role will change.”

That’s a lot to chat about in a short period of time, and clearly nothing is firmly set just yet. But there is time to look back and look ahead in various ways to figure out just where the Hoyas are – and where they might be headed.

What just happened: The Hoyas promised they would be charged up after missing the tournament in 2008 – their first postseason at home since 1996. They came through in their opener, blasting Maryland and looking like a top-five team in the process.

But they never managed a winning streak of more than two games. Losses to the likes of Syracuse, Duke, Navy and even Loyola don’t hurt. It’s stumbles against Hobart and St. John’s that are tough to overcome. By mid-March, the Hoyas were in an 0-2 hole in the ECAC (against teams that ultimately went 1-11 in their other league games) and remained closely tethered to .500.

They’ll miss: There’s some obvious choices here, but the first guy Urick mentioned was defensive midfielder Chris Taylor.

Urick said Taylor, who plans to come back to school and take the math and science courses needed to apply for medical school, hopes to join the Hoyas’ track team next season. If anyone on the roster could do it, it’s Taylor; he’s pretty much a perfect example of Georgetown’s willingness to build its program on athletes.

“The kid from from soup to nuts, from A to Z, is one of the more impressive young men I’ve been around for what he brings to the table,” Urick said.

There will be other holes to plug. Urick bemoaned his decision to switch Jake Samperton from attack to midfielder before reversing course toward the end of the season. Samperton scored five of his 11 goals in the final two games.

It was a spark to an attack. Of the six guys to reach 10 goals, four logged most of their time in the midfield. Ricky Mirabito was a reliable scorer and Craig Dowd is a solid finisher, but the absence of an effective third attackman (before Samperton’s switch) hurt.

One of those 10-goal scorers was Dan D’Agnes, a second-line midfielder and a fifth-year senior. Also gone is Ben Hostetler, a reserve d-middie with 19 groundballs.

Another significant loss is defenseman Stevie Bauer, who caused 32 turnovers in a star turn that even surprised Urick.

“He really exceeded my wildest expectations,” Urick said. “I never expected him to play at that level. I knew he was good, but he went beyond what I thought he was capable.”

The Hoyas will also lose their walk-on faceoff tandem of Dan Vinson and Michael Shotwell; there won’t be a short stick midfielder returning who faced off this spring.

Starters lost: One attackman, one defenseman, one defensive midfielder, face-off specialist

Who’s rising:  Clearly, defensive midfield is a place the Hoyas will need to fill. Urick sees Kurt Watkinson, who redshirted after undergoing hip surgery in the summer as a possible source of help. That’s also a place Francis McDonough might pick up some slack.

Some other names Urick mentioned as guys who could come on: Zack Angel, who played plenty as a freshman; Gerry Reilly, a Cincinnati product and Hoyas football player who Urick said was “out of the Chris Taylor mold”; rising junior Jon Schoen, who might be a possible option on close defense; Ditto for Dan Hostetler; And then there’s midfielder Eric Rinehardt, who had three goals as a junior.

“He is a guy we need to take a long hard look and try to get as much out of him as we can,” Urick said.

On the spot in 2010: The midfield

Make no mistake; the Hoyas will still have an exceptionally talented midfield next spring.

But guys like Andrew Brancaccio (22 goals as a junior) and Scott Kocis (21 goals) have another step to take – becoming the sort of guys who can carry a team.

Some help from the posse of athletes Urick has collected would hurt, either.

Stu Shannon, if he decided he wants to plays at this level, he can,” Urick said. “You can’t coach a kid to be 6-7. He really does need to get stronger. Andrew the same way. Andrew, if he can develop as much physically as he did from last year to this year, he’s going to be the force everyone expected him to be. He had an excellent season and Kocis as well, and they’re both elite-type players if they put the work in.”

Far-too-premature prognosis: It’s hard to guess how a program that’s missed the tournament the last two seasons despite an influx of talent will rebound.

It’s made especially more difficult because this year was supposed to be a bounce-back season, rendering 2008 an unfortunate anomaly that might have just been a twist of fate rendered from the tournament selection committee.

It would help if Jack Davis turns out to be the goalie who made 36 saves and allowed 26 goals in the last three games, and not the guy whose save percentage was .492 in the first 11 games.

Of course, the last time the Hoyas could comfortably call on their goalie to stand on his head and win a game was Scott Schroeder early this decade. That was seven years ago, and while talent plays a role in that drought, schematic issues probably do as well.

As such, an potentially improved Davis won’t be the only pillar for next season. Brancaccio and Kocis must continue to advance, and the Hoyas absolutely must find a third attackman who can draw a pole off one of those two midfielders or punish opponents who dare bump up an extra pole.

Even with the 7-7 season, the pieces remain for the Hoyas to be the second-best team in the Big East’s first season behind perennial power Syracuse.

Maybe today’s meeting, as Urick hoped, set the tone for that recovery. If the right tweaks are made and the right work ethic is instilled, it certainly could occur. Here’s guessing (waaay too early) the Hoyas find themselves back in the playoff picture in 2010.

Patrick Stevens