Georgetown presumably moved defenseman Barney Ehrmann up top to Friday contend with Navy midfielder Andy Warner.
Warner didn’t play because of a concussion.
Ehrmann still made a massive difference for the Hoyas.
Ehrmann had nine groundballs and an assist as Georgetown edged Navy 9-8 at Multi-Sport Field to move back to .500.
“I could kick myself in the ass for not doing that sooner,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “He is a force up there. He’s a difference-maker when he’s up top, getting it up off the ground, coming off the wing of the faceoff, being able to take the ball away. I’ve seen Barney play a lot of good games, but I’m not sure he’s played a better one than he did tonight.”
It helped the Hoyas (4-4) in transition. It helped them win 11 of 17 faceoffs in the last three quarters. And while Navy (4-6) did well to simply avoid Ehrmann in the defensive end, he was still disruptive to the very end.
It was Ehrmann who poked away possession from the Midshipmen in the closing seconds to stave off a late rally and preserve Georgetown’s victory.
Make no mistake, it was a needed one for the Hoyas, who had dropped their last four games decided by two goals or less and needed something to begin the process of salvaging something from this season.
They might have found a few ingredients for success going forward in the process.
With Ehrmann situated at long pole midfielder and senior Ryan Shuler, an attackman recently shifted to defensive midfield, the Hoyas possessed an athleticism advantage at the defensive end. Warner’s presence wouldn’t have changed that, and Navy fared well offensively in the second half after adjusting to Warner’s absence.
Ehrmann, though, was especially active and wound up a groundball shy of a career-high set in the 2009 finale against Penn State.
“I was really happy to be back up there on the faceoff wings, a chance to get some GBs which is kind of my specialty,” Ehrmann said. “It was definitely good to be back up top and it changed things around and maybe gave us a spark.”
Ehrmann is one of the few Hoyas remaining from 2007 when Georgetown most recently reached the tournament, the last in a line of six straight teams that advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals before falling.
He’s around this year only because he missed 2010 because of injury. But on a night teammate Travis Comeau scored five goals and Navy goalie RJ Wickham made a career-high 20 saves, Ehrmann was as influential as anyone in shaping the game.
The Hoyas could use such outings going forward. Notre Dame and Villanova still loom, as do tricky tests against Loyola and Yale. Georgetown might need to win out to have a chance to snap its three-year postseason drought. It would be wise to at least win at Notre Dame, the most imposing opponent left on its schedule.
Regardless of whether it can score (it can) and defend (that’s iffier) with any consistency, Georgetown thrived Friday in part because of Ehrmann. The ability to channel that outing for another month might be a crucial element in determining the Hoyas’ long-term prospects.
“When we need him most and we need to turn it on, he’s always there to make it happen,” Comeau said. “He’s one of the best groundball guys in the country, and that’s a coach’s dream.”
—- Patrick Stevens