- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2004

When Reyn Garnett decided to drop football — and some weight — it turned out to be a hefty gain for Georgetown’s lacrosse program.

At 6-foot-4, the slimmed-down yet still imposing sophomore has quickly developed into a top defenseman for the fifth-seeded Hoyas, who meet fourth-seeded Syracuse tomorrow in Ithaca, N.Y., in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.

The Mount Kisco, N.Y., native came to Georgetown to play both football and lacrosse. As a freshman tight end, Garnett weighed between 250 and 255 pounds. In the months between playing the two sports, Garnett worked to get down to a lacrosse playing weight of 215 pounds.

“It’s pretty difficult. It doesn’t take me long because I just eat well and work out once or twice a day,” Garnett said. “I just ate one or two meals.”

He played sparingly for much of last spring as he worked himself into lacrosse shape and caught up on things after missing fall football practice. There wasn’t much room for him on the field anyway because Hoyas seniors Pat Collins, Brant Gresham and Kyle Sweeney were among the nation’s top defenseman.

But when Sweeney went down with a season-ending ankle injury in late April, some playing time opened. Garnett ended up playing in both of Georgetown’s NCAA tournament games.

“By the end of the season, it was obvious to us he was ready. Sure enough, Kyle gets hurt and Reyn’s minutes get doubled,” coach Dave Urick said. “That experience really helped jump-start his sophomore year. That’s been a bonus. Sometimes when the window closes for one guy, the door of opportunity opens for someone else. When Kyle went down, Reyn was able to get some valuable minutes.”

After last season, Garnett opted to focus exclusively on lacrosse. Since he was already in lacrosse shape, Garnett didn’t lift much but otherwise maintained his usual diet and exercise regimen.

By the time he returned to Georgetown last fall, he was ready to make an impact. Starting with fall ball and continuing through intrasquad basketball games, Garnett displayed athletic ability that awed teammates.

“He just needed to shed that football shell that he had,” sophomore defenseman John Trapp said. “He came in pretty big. People poked a lot of fun about his picture in the media guide from last year, but he’s pretty well cut now. At the dining hall, he’d have to hold back. Our defensive coach had him on a certain diet. You have to be pretty impressed [with him going from] being an offensive lineman to what he’s become, which is a quick, athletic defenseman.”

Just before Garnett came back for the spring semester, his father died.

“Losing my dad was hard, but coming back to school and coming back to lacrosse was good — it got my mind off it,” Garnett said. “When that happened, it got me down for a while. Having something to do and going to it every day and just being with my friends, it helped a lot.”

Throughout the season, Garnett often has covered an opponent’s best off-ball player and usually thrives against tougher foes. He limited Cornell’s Sean Greenhalgh to a goal in a March6 victory to help start a five-game winning streak. Earlier this month, dangerous Rutgers crease attackman Delby Powless managed only an assist in a 7-6 Georgetown victory that clinched the ECAC title.

It isn’t necessarily a role the physical Garnett relishes — he describes covering players who specialize in garbage goals as “aggravating” — but his ability to do it well while assisting in other aspects of defense has helped the Hoyas (10-3) reach the quarterfinals for the sixth time in seven years.

“Players like that can really break a team’s back if they get goals in close,” sophomore midfielder Peter Cannon said. “Reyn just has an awareness that allows him to shut them down.”

Added Garnett: “That’s the type of the player I am. I like playing against someone who’s supposedly good. It gets me up and gets me going. I’d rather guard someone who is good than just a mediocre player.”

And it’s clear Garnett’s opponents will be hearing more from him in the future.

“He just quietly goes about his business,” Urick said. “Now he kind of leads by example. As he goes through this program, he’s a guy who will step up and be vocal. Right now he just gets the job done.”

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