- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jerry Lambe didn’t necessarily know he would emerge as the latest in a long string of stingy Georgetown defensive players this year.

He certainly didn’t believe it would happen back when he was an injury-plagued freshman.

A strong spring has vaulted Lambe, the ECAC’s defensive player of the year, into All-American discussions and helped the Hoyas (11-2) secure the No. 6 seed and a meeting with Princeton (10-3) at Multi-Sport Field today in the first round of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

But three years ago, the highly touted Long Islander endured a run of bad luck. His appendix burst his first weekend on campus, consigning him to a week on coach Dave Urick’s couch. That spring, he suffered a severe ankle sprain and then a stress fracture in his femur.

While his teammates were making a postseason push, Lambe — who also had injury problems in high school — just wanted to get healthy.

“I was a ghost here freshman year,” Lambe said. “I was having second thoughts. I didn’t think I was going to get to play — ever. I came in that year, and I was one of the blue-chip defensemen, and I ended up not even being able to step on the field. I had a lot going through my head, like I was a total bust and I was never going to step on the field.”

Georgetown had other plans. Lambe appeared in just one game and received a redshirt to preserve his four years of eligibility. The Hoyas also found work for him in 2005, finally acclimating him to the college game.

It took some of his teammates’ misfortune to crack the lineup. Several Georgetown defensemen came down with mononucleosis, and Lambe took over a starting spot for the final six games.

“Our sophomore year against Loyola was the first game he started, and he played incredible and shut down his guy,” senior midfielder Trevor Casey said. “At that point, we all knew we had something special, and he just hadn’t peaked in his abilities quite yet.”

All along, Lambe paid attention as long pole Brodie Merrill and defenseman Reyn Garnett refined their games. Both players were disruptive forces capable of short-circuiting an opponent’s possession.

Merrill and Garnett are both three inches taller than Lambe, and as seniors both were listed at least 15 pounds above Lambe’s current weight. Despite the size differential, Lambe tried to incorporate as much as he could to enhance his own performance.

“It’s impossible to copy him,” Lambe said of Merrill. “You just try and take what you can do physically from what he does because he has such a ridiculous range of gifts. I just tried to take the two or three checks that I thought I could pull off and not pull them off as well, but they worked better than the ones I had before that.”

They’re still effective and dangerous because of his increased patience. Rather than trying to overwhelm a foe, Lambe takes a cerebral approach and maintains good position to set up a check.

“He’s got a variety of checks, and he has some that defy description, but he doesn’t come out and overplay guys,” Urick said. “His best check and one that we hope the rest of the players will emulate is a simple poke check. He’s very adept at that and doesn’t neglect that, where with other guys they’re waving the stick all over the place. He doesn’t beat himself.”

Few others can get the better of Lambe. He held Duke attackman Matt Danowski, his high school teammate at Farmingdale, to a goal and an assist in a March meeting, and the Hoyas match him against an opponent’s top ball carrier each game.

His process of shutting down a star can be stealthy, and Casey knows his teammate has a quiet approach off the field. So it was a bit of a surprise when Lambe gave a big speech in the huddle before the Hoyas’ season-opener at Maryland, a tradition that continued throughout the season.

“We didn’t really expect it,” Casey said. “He just came into the huddle and went off for about 30 seconds. It got us all riled up.”

Lambe hasn’t slowed down since the Hoyas’ first victory ever against Maryland. Georgetown will try to end another skid in the next few weeks — earning its first final four appearance since 1999 despite reaching the quarterfinals the last five years.

And Lambe is looking to improve even more, especially with another season of eligibility and nearly the entire defense coming back next spring.

“I’m just happy to have my name in the same article as those guys — [Kyle] Sweeney, Brodie, Reyn,” Lambe said. “I don’t think I belong in that company by any means. It’s incredible to just be mentioned with them. I still think there’s a lot of work to be done.”

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