- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

It has taken only two games for Andrew Brancaccio to establish himself as one of Georgetown’s best midfielders.

The freshman has five goals for the No. 2 Hoyas (2-0), who play host to No. 8 Syracuse (1-2) this afternoon. But that success is sure to bring with it plenty of attention from opponents for several years.

It would be wise for the Orange to be wary of Brancaccio, whose powerful outside shot gives the notoriously shaky-shooting Hoyas a much-needed presence on the perimeter.

“Teams are going to be sliding to him quick, putting a pole on him, maybe shutting him off,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “Hopefully the other guys on that unit can feed off that. The other two guys on that unit need to be able to contribute as well.”

Those would be Trevor Casey (0-for-8), who shifted from attack to midfield this season, and Dan D’Agnes (three goals). The entire midfield will be vital against the Orange, who seeks to avoid their third straight 1-3 start and their third straight loss to the Hoyas.

Another concern for Georgetown is its extra-man offense, which sputtered last week against St. John’s. The Hoyas are a meager 1-for-16 in man-up situations, and their struggles against the Red Storm led to a modest 12-6 victory even though they took 54 shots.

“We made it a point of emphasis, and we didn’t get it done on extra man, man down or the faceoff X,” Urick said. “We need to shore up those specialized areas or teams like Syracuse are going to give us more than we’d like.”

Virginia’s new script

No. 4 Virginia was well on its way to another high-scoring affair with Syracuse when it was tied 6-6 after the first quarter Saturday. But unlike some of their predecessors, the Cavaliers used a tight defense rather than a barrage of goals to get past the Orange.

Virginia (3-1) earned an 11-8 victory, and in the process had the fewest goals for a winning team in the school’s 20-game history.

“I didn’t want the game to go in that direction,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “I feel like this team needs to play good defense, because I’m not sure we’re ready to score 20. … In terms of what’s coming up [against Princeton], the way the game played over the final 40 minutes was good training for this weekend.”

The Cavaliers had no such struggles Monday, blanking VMI 20-0 for the program’s first shutout since 1999. Starsia yanked his starters after the first quarter and played four goalies in the rout.

Filling the void

No. 5 Johns Hopkins took a preseason hit when defenseman Matt Drenan was lost for the year with a torn ACL. But the Blue Jays (2-1) have recovered with boosts from sophomore Michael Evans, who switched back from short stick to close defense this season, and Fairfield transfer Matt Bocklet.

Evans helped contain Princeton’s Peter Trombino and UMBC’s Drew Westervelt to a combined one even strength goal in victories in the last week. Meanwhile, the active Bocklet had seven groundballs against Princeton for the Blue Jays, who play host to Hofstra today.

“We’re very fortunate he’s here,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “Matt gives us a guy who can get the ball up off the ground, he gives us some savvy on the wings, and what we’ve found is he’s actually a pretty solid defender. He doesn’t try to do too many things, he’s pretty vanilla, and he’s really bought into our system.”

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