- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 2, 2009

It wasn’t a good day for Scott Kocis.

The midfielder knew how vital it was to Georgetown’s postseason hopes for the Hoyas to dart through April unscathed. And so down one with 16 seconds left against Loyola on April 11, Kocis figured he could deliver in a crucial moment.

Trouble was, his shot was stopped, and Georgetown found itself in a huge hole with three weeks to play.

Kocis hasn’t permitted any doubt to emerge since then. He has recorded hat tricks against Massachusetts and Rutgers - the first three-goal games of his career - as No. 18 Georgetown (7-6, 3-3 ECAC) hosts No. 20 Penn State (8-5, 3-3) in Saturday’s regular-season finale.

“Obviously, it was a tough loss,” Kocis said. “I had a chance put in front of me, and obviously I didn’t hit it. I was pretty disappointed, but I just used that as motivation for the last couple games.”

Kocis’ surge coincided with a renewal of hope for the Hoyas, who remain in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Georgetown could secure its first three-game winning streak of the season with a defeat of the Nittany Lions and would at least keep its name in the discussion as the five-man selection committee sequesters itself later in the weekend to pick the 16-team field.

That hardly seemed an option a few weeks ago, when Georgetown sat 5-6, in danger of its first losing season in two decades. It was only natural the Hoyas looked at the litany of missed chances, as well as a pair of unexpected losses (at Hobart and St. John’s) that could still torpedo their postseason candidacy.

Yet at the time, the Loyola loss stung the most.

“I know for Scott, he put a lot more of that mindset on himself than he should, but that’s a lot easier for me to say and a lot tougher thing for him to come to grips with,” coach Dave Urick said. “There’s all kinds of other plays earlier in that game that had just as much of an impact.”

Of course, one saved shot couldn’t hide Kocis’ substantial improvement from his first two seasons. He originally committed to Duke before switching to Georgetown in the aftermath of the rape investigation that temporarily suspended the Blue Devils’ program. He was solid as a freshman, then played in only two games as a sophomore primarily because of a fractured collarbone.

He might now be the Hoyas’ most reliable midfielder, and Urick noticed an increased interest in extra shooting sessions since the Loyola game. Kocis has made six of 16 attempts in the past two games.

“He’s a little more determined and focused on shooting the ball as well as he possibly can, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Urick said. “It’s not counterproductive. It’s made him intensify his effort a little bit.”

It might not be quite enough to nudge the Hoyas into the postseason. Georgetown was dealt a harsh blow Wednesday when Hofstra, a tournament-bound team, lost to Villanova in the CAA tournament to eliminate an extra at-large berth available to the rest of the field.

Still, a slim chance remains, starting with a win Saturday.

“It means a lot,” Kocis said. “It’s a good feeling to put us back in the playoff picture, and I’m hoping we can squeak in and make a run.”

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