It was as pleasing a premature end as Georgetown could have scripted, a 13-8 dismissal of a perennial punching bag Friday night at the Multi-Sport Field.
Yes, the Hoyas can still handle Rutgers, just as they did in the teams’ previous 14 meetings. Some things never change.
Right now, Georgetown’s postseason fate remains a constant as well.
As good as the Hoyas (7-6, 3-3 Big East) can feel about themselves after wrapping up the regular season with a victory at Syracuse and a rout of Rutgers, it still marks the fifth straight season they’ll miss the NCAA tournament. A program not long removed from a decade-plus run of postseason appearances is done before May even begins.
“It’s a little different right now than it was back then,” said junior attackman Brian Casey (three goals and an assist) “Every team’s good right now. We just have to keep working hard and get to where we need to be and reach our full potential.”
Potential and Georgetown go hand in hand. It’s not just because of the program’s strong showings in the often-overstated world of recruiting rankings in the latter half of the last decade. Rather, there’s almost always a glimmer of what the Hoyas can be mixed into what they actually are.
It was evident in an admirable two games to close this season out the right way when the chances of even reaching the Big East tournament were faint. And it was clear in a brilliant third quarter, when the Hoyas scored five goals in less than eight minutes to turn a halftime tie into an 8-3 lead, that Georgetown can summon a brief stretch of dominance in nearly any game.
“When we’re firing on all cylinders, it’s tough to stop us,” attackman Zac Guy (two goals, two assists) said.
It just didn’t happen enough all season, which is why the Hoyas find themselves where they do on a crisp late April evening.
It’s not an utterly hopeless situation. Far from it. The Hoyas had a decent claim to an NCAA bid in 2010 before a Selection Sunday snub, and entered the final weekend with postseason hopes the two years before that.
But any optimism must be contrasted with the reality Georgetown needed to win its final two games in the last two years to avoid a losing season —- an occurrence the Hoyas have not endured since 1989, the year before coach Dave Urick began what is now a 23-year run.
So the question becomes: Does the drumbeat of missed NCAA tournaments signify a near-permanent state for this program, or can Georgetown rise out of an extended trip to the doldrums next year?
“I’d like to think so,” Urick said. “There’s a lot of elements that come into play in that —- obviously how much they’re willing to do in the summer to make themselves better and bigger and stronger and all that. Hopefully they’ll do a lot of those little things and we can start to move back toward where we’re rather be.”
If a return to the national stage doesn’t come next year, it might not be for a while. Five of the Hoyas’ offensive starters are juniors, including Casey and Guy. Two of its three starting defensemen are juniors.
In short, it’s a group, as Guy observed, that’s “just itching to get there.”
“Offensively, we were a little young this year,” Casey said. “Zac redshirted last year, so he didn’t have a whole lot of experience coming in playing a full season. A lot of kids were like that. I think it just gave us enough experience to get it going for next year.
That was something to worry about after Friday, after the Hoyas salvaged a winning record from an often-erratic roster. Urick praised the way his senior class went about things this week when there was virtually nothing at stake for the long term.
It was a fine way for Georgetown to end 2012. It just came a little early —- yet again.
“The goals of the program never change, and at some point we’re going to continue to play after games like this,” Urick said. “You deal with it.”
—- Patrick Stevens