With 50 seconds remaining in a vital men’s lacrosse game against St. John’s Saturday at Multi-Sport Field, Georgetown had a two-goal lead, possession of the ball and a faceoff man who had won 16 in a row.
It wasn’t enough. The Hoyas lost in overtime, 13-12, after giving up two goals in the final 20 seconds of regulation and a goal on the opening possession of overtime.
The stunning loss leaves the 20th-ranked Hoyas (5-5, 1-2 Big East) in a very precarious spot. To reach the four-team conference tournament in early May, the Hoyas almost certainly need to win their final three conference games — against No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 17 Syracuse and Rutgers.
The winner of the inaugural Big East tournament earns an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. The Hoyas have not made the NCAA tournament since 2007 and an at-large bid to the tournament seems highly unlikely.
“We hope to get in [to the conference tournament] but you’ve got to play your way in,” Georgetown Coach Dave Urick said. “You’re not going to back your way in, particularly now. It will be interesting to see how this group responds to this.”
The Hoyas took a 12-10 lead with 3 minutes 51 seconds to play after junior Zac Guy got a step on sophomore defender Joe Addona and scored.
It was still 12-10 when Guy had the ball following a timeout with 58 seconds to play. This time, Addona stripped him almost immediately and the Red Storm gained possession.
St. John’s closed to 12-11 after a goal by sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald with 20 seconds left. Fitzgerald hit a 10-yard shot from a tight angle that got past senior goalie Matt Winter after it appeared a defender had inadvertently screened Winter.
But there still was work to do for St. John’s (6-4, 2-2). Georgetown senior Brian Tabb had won 16 consecutive faceoffs dating from late in the second quarter. Fifteen had come against junior Jordan Rothman.
Yet Rothman won the ensuing faceoff and the Red Storm sent the game to overtime after senior Harry Kutner scored while being fouled by a Georgetown defender with 7.6 seconds left.
In overtime, Rothman again won the faceoff against Tabb. Following a timeout, Fitzgerald got a step on his defender near the crease, spun around and scored from point blank 33 seconds into overtime.
Three goals in 53 seconds and one tough loss for the Hoyas.
Guy finished with two goals and three assists and junior Brian Casey added three goals for Georgetown. Sophomore Kieran McArdle had two goals and four assists for St. John’s despite being matched against junior Chris Nourse, one of the top defensemen in the nation. Junior Jeff Lowman (Severna Park) added 16 saves, including a save on a shot from Casey with two seconds left in regulation.
“It’s huge on multiple, multiple levels. . . . It puts us one step closer to the Big East tournament,” St. John’s Coach Jason Miller said. “With three wins and a minimum of four probably gets you in. To be 2-2 in the conference with two left, it’s a step forward.”
After both teams had left the field, Georgetown fifth-year senior Bobby Boyle, a starting defenseman, remained on the team bench with his head in his hands. Senior defensive midfielder Gerry Reilly sat next to him.
“They were able to double-team . . . and we turned it over almost immediately,” Urick said of the final 58 seconds. “We didn’t do a very good job on that pressure. . . . We have to rely on our leadership to help put this behind us.”