- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2005

Georgetown figured the best way to shut down Army attackmen John Walker and Jim Wagner in yesterday’s NCAA tournament first-round game was to keep the ball away from them.

That simple plan couldn’t have worked any better.

Andy Corno won 15 of his 16 faceoff attempts, and long pole Brodie Merrill shut down Walker as the sixth-seeded Hoyas pummeled the Black Knights 16-6 before 1,328 at North Kehoe Field.

Georgetown (10-4) advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season and will meet Maryland on Sunday in Princeton, N.J.

The Hoyas were worried Army (11-6) might overcome its lack of depth with a flurry of unsettled opportunities from faceoff men Erik Mineo and Tony Vozzolo. Instead, Corno’s dominance permitted Georgetown to dictate the tempo and forced Army to make feeble attempts to score in six-on-six situations.

“I think Andy put to rest any concerns we had about the faceoffs,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “That was a pretty impressive effort.”

Georgetown received plenty of those as it rolled to its largest margin of victory in an NCAA game. The Hoyas outshot the Black Knights 58-22, held a whopping 51-18 groundball edge and forced 22 turnovers.

Just as noteworthy was Merrill’s play. Taken off the faceoff wings and dropped down to close defense to mark Walker, Merrill helped snap the junior’s 44-game point streak. Wagner, who was guarded for much of the day by Reyn Garnett, managed a goal and an assist in his final game at Army.

“It makes it a lot easier to play defense when we possess the ball like we did today,” Merrill said. “We went on stretches on offense where we had five minutes worth of great possessions, so when they were playing offense, we were fresh.”

Added Army coach Jack Emmer: “[Walker’s] got a fracture in his lower back that’s been very difficult and a fracture in his index finger. Brodie Merrill beating the [heck] out of that index finger probably didn’t help him any.”

Georgetown scored the first five goals before Army pulled within 6-3 at halftime, hardly a comfortable margin against a team capable of scoring in bunches. Georgetown quickly corrected the situation in the second half, scoring five goals in a little more than nine minutes to turn a potentially scary game into a full-fledged rout.

“When you play a service academy, you know they’re not going to quit. Otherwise, we’re all in trouble,” Urick said. “It seemed like we had some shots I’d like to think we could put away. We hit the goalie a few times not in the best spot. It was just a matter of time. If we continued to get those looks at the goal, we were going to get our share of goals, and that certainly played out in the second half.”

Georgetown wound up with at least a dozen goals for the fourth straight game, substantial growth for a team that was blown out 13-6 at Maryland in its season opener. The Hoyas never have beaten their Beltway rival but will receive another chance next weekend against the third-seeded Terrapins (10-5).

“Every team that we’ve lost to, we’ve kind of turned around and said, ‘I’d like to face that team again,’” Corno said. “When we found out our seeding, we didn’t want to look past Army, but we knew the second-round matchup could have been two teams we had lost to. I think we’re blessed to have that opportunity for a little bit of revenge.”

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